City folks more prone to late-stage cancer than villagers

May 11th, 2009 - 12:37 pm ICT by IANS  

Washington, May 11 (IANS) People in cities are more likely to develop late-stage cancer than those living in suburban and rural areas, a new study has found.
The results of the study also indicate a need for more effective urban-based cancer screening and awareness programmes.

Diagnosing cancer at an early stage can improve outcomes. Studies show certain groups, such as low income populations, are more likely to be diagnosed with cancer at later stages.

While some studies have also found that geography can affect the timing of cancer diagnoses, research on rural-urban disparities has produced mixed and conflicting findings.

Sara L. McLafferty of the University of Illinois (U of I )and Fahui Wang of Louisiana State University (LSU) analysed data from the Illinois State Cancer Registry from 1998 to 2002.

The investigators chose Illinois because it encompasses a diverse range of geographic regions from the densely populated Chicago metropolitan area to low-density, remote rural areas.

They assessed late-stage cancer diagnoses of the four major types of cancer (breast, colorectal, lung, and prostate) throughout the state, comparing data from cities with those from less-populated regions.

The researchers found that for all four cancers, risk was highest in the most highly urbanised area (Chicago) and decreased as areas became more rural.

However, in the most isolated rural areas, risk was also high. Risks were considerably low among patients living in large towns in rural areas.

For colorectal and prostate cancers, and to a lesser extent breast cancer, these disparities stemmed mainly from differences in the ages and races of individuals in the various geographic areas, said an U of I release.

A high concentration of vulnerable populations and economically disadvantaged areas in Chicago and its suburbs accounted for the high rates of late-stage diagnosis found in these highly urban areas.

Among the different races, the black population was particularly vulnerable to late diagnosis.

These findings are slated for publication in the June issue of CANCER, a journal of the American Cancer Society.

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