As segregation increases in societies, cancer death rates increase

As segregation increases in societies, cancer death rates increase

Whether you survive a battle with cancer may depend in part on where you live.

Researchers at the American Cancer Society and Clemson University in South Carolina found a 20% higher death rate for all types of cancer in the communities with the most racial and economic segregation.

For lung cancer, the death rate was 50% higher in the most segregated counties.

“Many people living in low-income minority households have less access to employment opportunities, transportation, education and health care, and are more likely to experience poorer health outcomes,” said study author Xuesong Han, scientific director of health services research at the National Health Service. American Cancer Society.

“These findings show that it is imperative that we continue to look for ways to increase access to cancer prevention and early detection where possible, to reduce disparities in cancer outcomes,” she said in a society news release.

The researchers looked at county-level demographic and death rates from 2015 to 2019 from the US Census Bureau and the National Center for Health Statistics.

Among their findings: Residential racial and economic segregation was associated with cancer deaths at the county level.

Segregation was associated with higher mortality from 12 of 13 selected cancer sites.

Reasons why lung cancer mortality was most strongly associated with segregation include greater exposure to risk factors such as smoking and air pollution and less early detection through screening and early diagnosis. Lower survival may also be due to limited access to quality cancer care.

“In recent decades, most cancer prevention and control efforts have focused on individual risk factors,” said lead author Lu Zhang, of Clemson’s Department of Public Health Sciences.

“In the future, more efforts are needed to remove structural risk factors and intervene in the intermediate factors to reduce the impact of segregation on health outcomes,” Zhang said in the release.

The results were published in November. 17 in the diary JAMA Oncology.

More information:
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more on equity in cancer prevention and control.

Lu Zhang et al., Association of Residential Racial and Economic Segregation With Cancer Mortality in the US, JAMA Oncology (2022). DOI: 10.1001/jamaoncol.2022.5382

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