Rural Residents Are Less Likely To Develop Colon Cancer, But More Likely To Die From It

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Rural Residents Are Less Likely To Develop Colon Cancer, But More Likely To Die From It

Across the country, people who live in rural areas are more likely to be diagnosed with late-stage colon cancer than city dwellers, according to a new study published in the Journal of Rural Health.

Patients living in counties far from populated cities and suburbs were 1.23 times more likely to be diagnosed with non-curable, stage 4 colon cancer than people living in urban areas, according to the research. That’s despite rural residents having lower rates of developing the disease.

Treatment outcomes are also worse for rural patients, with various studies finding they have an 8% to 15% greater chance of dying from colon cancer.

That comes as no surprise to Dr. Hope Tinker, a primary care physician working in the small central Missouri town of Fayette. 

There aren’t enough doctors in rural Missouri, said Tinker, who also does rounds at rural nursing homes. And that shortage means people don’t seek medical care until it’s too late.

“Especially with something like colon cancer, where we know that if you catch the precancerous problems then that’s a very treatable disease,” Tinker said.

Read more from St. Louis Public Radio.