-- Robert Preidt
FRIDAY, Oct. 4 (HealthDay News) -- Older cancer survivors in
rural areas are more likely than those in urban areas to forgo
medical and dental care because they can't afford it, a new study
Researchers analyzed data from more than 7,800 cancer survivors
-- 1,642 from rural areas and 6,162 from urban areas -- who took
part in the U.S. National Health Interview Surveys between 2006 and
Fifty-one percent of the participants were aged 65 and older,
and most were covered by Medicare and supplemental Medicaid or
The researchers found that older cancer survivors in rural areas
were 66 percent more likely than those in urban areas to do without
medical care and 54 percent more likely to skip dental care because
of cost, according to the study published Oct. 4 in the journal
Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention.
Older cancer survivors in rural areas may have to travel farther
to get to a doctor or dentist, which means they have higher
out-of-pocket costs related to travel and lost wages, the
They may also have less social support and help with
transportation if younger family members leave rural areas for
better economic opportunities in cities.
"This is the first population-based study to examine whether cancer survivors in rural and urban areas are equally likely to forgo health care as a result of concerns about cost," study author Nynikka Palmer, a postdoctoral fellow in the department of social sciences and health policy at Wake Forest School of Medicine, said in a journal news release.
"We found a disparity among older survivors, for whom health insurance coverage through Medicare is almost universal, while no disparity was found for younger survivors after controlling for various factors. This suggests that health insurance coverage alone may not ensure equal access to health care."
Palmer noted that cancer survivors "who require regular
follow-up care after treatment, but do not receive it, may be at
risk for other health conditions like diabetes and heart disease,
poorer quality of life, and possibly premature death."
Health care providers and public health officials should be
aware of this rural-urban disparity so they can help rural cancer
survivors access the resources they need to get care, Palmer
It will be important to assess the impact that the expected
changes in health care policies have on cancer survivors in rural
and urban areas, the researchers said.
The American Cancer Society offers
tips for cancer survivors.
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