It is unknown whether rural patients with operable breast cancer do worse than urban patients in Louisiana. We performed an analysis of breast cancer based on rural versus urban residencies and evaluate factors associated with worse survival.
Data on women diagnosed with stages I to III breast cancer from 2004 to 2016 were obtained from the Louisiana Tumor Registry. Overall survival and cancer-specific survival were compared between rural and urban residencies by sociodemographic, clinical-pathologic, and treatment variables. Kaplan-Meier method and the log-rank test were used to compare the survival curves. Cox regression model was used to assess independent factors associated with overall survival and cancer-specific survival.
Of the 27,780 patients, 2,441 patients (8.7%) resided in rural areas. Compared with urban patients, rural patients tended to be older, underinsured, more impoverished, less likely to be treated at an American College of Surgeons accredited institution, and more likely to be treated at a low-volume center (P < .005 each). For stages I and II diseases, there was a statistically significant difference in overall survival favoring urban regions, but no difference in cancer-specific survival. For stage III disease, there was no difference in either overall survival or cancer-specific survival between the 2 cohorts. Overall survival and cancer-specific survival curves for the entire cohort were not different at the 5-year mark, but become statistically significant with greater time; although rural patients had a lower long-term overall survival (P = .0001) and cancer-specific survival (P = .049) compared with urban patients, the rural-urban differences in overall survival and cancer-specific survival were no longer different after adjusting for other covariates, indicating the observed differences in univariate analysis were attributable to sociodemographic, clinicpathologic, and treatment factors.
Despite rural patients with operable breast cancer having an overall lesser overall survival and cancer-specific survival than their urban counterpart, rural residence itself was not an independent predictor of outcome. In fact, particular socioeconomic factors increased the risk of death among patients residing in rural areas. Additional analysis at the patient-level is needed to understand the interactions between rurality and breast cancer outcomes in Louisiana.
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Published online: July 01, 2020
Accepted: April 20, 2020
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