Springfield, Ill., March 4, 2013 – Home may be where the heart
is, but where you live could affect your health.
“Regardless of geographic location, women who live in high poverty
areas or are uninsured are at greatest risk of being diagnosed with breast
cancer at a later stage,” said lead author Kevin Henry, Department of Geography,
University of Utah.
A team of
scientists was assembled by the North American Association of Central Cancer
Registries (NAACCR) to examine breast cancer stage at diagnosis among 161,619
women aged 40 years and older diagnosed in ten participating US states. The team’s findings are reported
in the current issue of the journal Health & Place.
Other studies have examined these
differences, but this is one of the largest studies completed that
looked at geographic predictors of late-stage breast cancer including travel
time and geographic access to mammography, Henry said.The team also found that health insurance
coverage and census tract poverty presented more substantial risks for
late-stage diagnosis of breast cancer than geographic access.
“Based on our findings, poverty and health insurance are showing
themselves to be important predictors of late stage breast cancer,” said Henry,
adding the study provided little evidence that geographic access measures were
associated with stage at diagnosis. “While geographic barriers are an important
concern when considering gaps in mammography screening and breast cancer stage
at diagnosis, we need to acknowledge that there are a complex variety of other
factors that can affect stage at diagnosis.”
Cancer survival is poorest when the disease is found at its latest
stages, which is why early detection is a critical component to improving
survival and quality of life following treatment after breast cancer. “We do not currently have the tools to prevent
breast cancer. But these results inform practical public health policy—focus
interventions on these high risk women with the aim of reducing existing
disparities in breast cancer survival,” said co-author Recinda Sherman, Department
of Epidemiology, University of Miami Miller Medical School.
“Quality cancer data is vital in the fight against cancer,” said
NAACCR’s executive director Betsy Kohler. “By harnessing cancer registry data, this
work has truly underscored the need for targeted interventions among uninsured
women and those living in low poverty census tracts regardless of geographic
NAACCR obtained financial support
for this study from Susan G. Komen for the Cure.
Established in 1987, the North American Association of Central Cancer
Registries, Inc. (NAACCR) is a collaborative umbrella organization for cancer
registries, governmental agencies, professional organizations, and private
groups in North America interested in enhancing the quality and use of cancer
registry data. Its goal is to set standards and build consensus for the
collection of uniform cancer data across the continent. All state and
provincial central cancer registries in the United States and Canada are