The cancer gap between rural and urban Americans continues to grow in the United States. A new report shows that cancer death rates are falling more slowly in rural than urban areas, but proven strategies can help reduce these disparities.
While rural areas have lower rates of new cases of cancer (incidence rates) than urban areas, they have higher cancer death rates. Incidence rates were higher in rural areas for several cancers, including those linked to tobacco use such as lung cancer, and those that can be prevented by screening such as colorectal and cervical cancers.
This report is the first comprehensive description of cancer incidence and deaths in rural and urban areas.
To reduce these gaps, health care providers in rural areas can:
- Encourage patients to make healthy choices that lower cancer risk, such as quitting smoking, avoiding secondhand smoke, protecting skin from the sun when outdoors, staying physically active, and eating healthy foods.
- Recommend cancer screening tests and vaccinations that can prevent cancer.
- Participate in comprehensive cancer control coalitions.