-- Alan Mozes
TUESDAY, Oct. 29 (HealthDay News) -- Breast cancer patients who
live farther away from comprehensive cancer centers are more likely
to be diagnosed with later-stage disease, according to new
These patients are also more likely to ultimately undergo a
mastectomy, the investigators found.
"The main purpose of this study was to determine if women in rural North Dakota and Minnesota were at a disadvantage in terms of breast cancer screening, treatment and, ultimately, survival outcome," study author Krishan Jethwa, a medical student at the University of North Dakota School of Medicine and Health Sciences, said in a news release from the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR).
The study was scheduled for presentation Tuesday at the AACR's
annual conference, held in National Harbor, Md.
"Travel in this part of the country can be long and difficult, especially during the winter," Jethwa said. "While investigating the public-health implications of this, we found that women who live farther from a comprehensive cancer center were more likely to be diagnosed with later-stage disease. This highlights the need for improved access to screening and treatment for rural populations."
To explore the issue, the researchers looked at data from 260
women, aged 29 to 94, who had been diagnosed with breast cancer in
2007 and subsequently treated at a comprehensive cancer center in
None of the patients had a previous history of cancer, and all
Although no link was found between distance to the cancer center
and a patient's age at diagnosis, five-year survival rates or
radiotherapy treatment, an association was found between travel
distance and cancer stage at diagnosis and the type of surgery
performed post-diagnosis. However, the association does not prove a
Additional research is planned to explore how travel distance to
health care centers might affect mammogram frequency and how
directly linked mastectomies might be to cancer stage at
Data and conclusions presented at medical meetings typically are
considered preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed
For more on breast cancer, visit the
U.S. National Cancer Institute.
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