CDC report shows cancer death rates in Appalachia higher than national

June 28, 2002

Previous studies have shown that rural Americans often have less money, less education and less access to healthcare than other Americans.

A report released June 21, 2002, by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and conducted by researchers from the University of Kentucky and Penn State University confirms an unfortunate consequence - residents of Appalachia, a largely rural area following the spine of the Appalachian mountains and including a large part of Pennsylvania, are at higher risk of dying from cancer.

For example, those in Pennsylvania who fall within the geographic boundaries of Appalachia were shown to be at greater risk of death from colorectal cancer. (See report and map of Appalachia at http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm5124a3.htm).

"Whereas some may feel that cancer mortality is high in urban areas because of pollution and various behavioral factors, this report documents that people of Appalachia, particularly those in rural Appalachia, also have high rates of cancer mortality," said Gene Lengerich, VMD, associate professor of health evaluation sciences, Penn State College of Medicine, and research director for the National Cancer Institute-funded Appalachian Cancer Network (ACN) which conducted this study.

Led by the University of Kentucky and in partnership with West Virginia University and Penn State University, the ACN directs cancer research and research-based interventions toward rural areas and medically underserved people. Both the College of Medicine and the College of Agricultural Sciences at Penn State are actively involved with the ACN.

Researchers at University of Kentucky and Penn State University in collaboration with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention analyzed mortality data from 1994-1998 to compile the report. The data showed that the death rates for all cancers in Appalachia, and particularly in rural counties of Appalachia, were significantly higher than the corresponding death rates for the United States. In particular, death rates for lung and cervical cancer were significantly higher in rural Appalachia. The Appalachian region of Kentucky had the highest death rates for all cancers, lung cancer and cervical cancer. The report states that death rates from colorectal cancer were especially high in the Appalachian area of Pennsylvania.

"I think that this report for the first time really clarifies the disparity experienced by the medically underserved rural parts of Appalachia," said Ann Ward, director and co-principal investigator for the Northern Region of the ACN. "Other studies have shown that minority groups experience cancer disparities. This study shows that disparities also exist for a very large population in this geographic region."

High rates of smoking in Appalachia certainly contribute to high cancer death rates, but limited access to healthcare and lack of insurance probably also contribute to these high death rates, Ward said. However, she points out that other seldom mentioned reasons include the lack of medical specialists in rural areas and fear among some rural Americans of medical interventions.

Ward and Lengerich agree that local communities can help rural residents effectively reduce their risk of cancer, seek care, and assist physicians who can provide the necessary cancer tests.

"I would like to see researchers, policy makers and health educators take the information from this report and address this disparity," Ward said. "The ACN is particularly well-positioned to do this through the College of Agricultural Sciences where our regional office is located. Through our work, Penn State Cooperative Extension educators can use the research done through ACN to provide evidence-based cancer education programs to the rural communities of Pennsylvania and New York."

Lengerich said this report particularly points to a need for studies to look at the occurrence of cancer, not just death from cancer, in Appalachia. Comparing the occurrence of cancer in Appalachia to that in the United States could shed light on whether people of Appalachia are actually receiving care similar to that received by the rest of the United States.

"Research in cancer communication, education and health care can help educators, doctors, nurses, and policy makers to better overcome these disparities," Lengerich said.
-end-


Penn State

Related Cancer Articles from Brightsurf:

New blood cancer treatment works by selectively interfering with cancer cell signalling
University of Alberta scientists have identified the mechanism of action behind a new type of precision cancer drug for blood cancers that is set for human trials, according to research published in Nature Communications.

UCI researchers uncover cancer cell vulnerabilities; may lead to better cancer therapies
A new University of California, Irvine-led study reveals a protein responsible for genetic changes resulting in a variety of cancers, may also be the key to more effective, targeted cancer therapy.

Breast cancer treatment costs highest among young women with metastic cancer
In a fight for their lives, young women, age 18-44, spend double the amount of older women to survive metastatic breast cancer, according to a large statewide study by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Cancer mortality continues steady decline, driven by progress against lung cancer
The cancer death rate declined by 29% from 1991 to 2017, including a 2.2% drop from 2016 to 2017, the largest single-year drop in cancer mortality ever reported.

Stress in cervical cancer patients associated with higher risk of cancer-specific mortality
Psychological stress was associated with a higher risk of cancer-specific mortality in women diagnosed with cervical cancer.

Cancer-sniffing dogs 97% accurate in identifying lung cancer, according to study in JAOA
The next step will be to further fractionate the samples based on chemical and physical properties, presenting them back to the dogs until the specific biomarkers for each cancer are identified.

Moffitt Cancer Center researchers identify one way T cell function may fail in cancer
Moffitt Cancer Center researchers have discovered a mechanism by which one type of immune cell, CD8+ T cells, can become dysfunctional, impeding its ability to seek and kill cancer cells.

More cancer survivors, fewer cancer specialists point to challenge in meeting care needs
An aging population, a growing number of cancer survivors, and a projected shortage of cancer care providers will result in a challenge in delivering the care for cancer survivors in the United States if systemic changes are not made.

New cancer vaccine platform a potential tool for efficacious targeted cancer therapy
Researchers at the University of Helsinki have discovered a solution in the form of a cancer vaccine platform for improving the efficacy of oncolytic viruses used in cancer treatment.

American Cancer Society outlines blueprint for cancer control in the 21st century
The American Cancer Society is outlining its vision for cancer control in the decades ahead in a series of articles that forms the basis of a national cancer control plan.

Read More: Cancer News and Cancer Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.