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Cancer Care by Zip Code: Examining Geographic Health Disparities in the US

NY houses

ASCO Connection recently published an article talking about health disparities (“a term commonly used to describe differences in incidence, prevalence, mortality, and burden of cancer related to conditions among specific populations, including racial and ethnic minorities, sexual and gender minorities, older adults, and rural patients, among other groups”…that is a mouthful!) based on where someone lived who was diagnosed with cancer.  In the world of cancer survivorship, Lacuna Loft sees people from all over the country.  We have participants who are based in urban areas but for whom getting to a place for survivorship support is cumbersome all the way to people who live rurally and have no cancer center (or other known young adult cancer survivors) within a hundred miles.  This article isn’t based on young adults specifically, but it underlines the effect that geography has on outcomes…on whether people are surviving their cancer.

“Exciting new breakthroughs in cancer research are helping to make great strides in what is possible for patients with cancer. But they are not necessarily leading to equitable disease outcomes.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), while the overall age-adjusted incidence of cancer is lower in rural areas than urban areas, rural areas have higher cancer death rates. This difference in mortality is growing wider over time. In these instances, new cutting-edge therapies are not enough.”

The fact that this research is fairly recent, done within the last few years, also underlines how important it is for patients to speak up.  If a physician doesn’t ask you questions but you have something in your cancer treatment regime that is overly burdensome (traveling for treatments for instance), taking charge and using your patient voice to advocate for better care is a must.  This is true in the cancer treatment space as well as the cancer survivorship space.  Sometimes, a better solution isn’t possible…but we can always ask!

Read more of this very interesting article here.