Rural women with breast cancer less likely to receive radiotherapy


  • Carrie Printz

Rural women with breast cancer are less likely than patients in urban areas to receive recommended radiotherapy after undergoing a lumpectomy, according to a recent study presented at AcademyHealth's Annual Research Meeting, held in Baltimore, Maryland, from June 23 to June 25, 2013.

The study was conducted by researchers who analyzed data from the 2008 California Cancer Registry and reviewed care given to nearly 350,000 urban and rural women with all stages of breast cancer. No significant mortality differences were observed between the 2 groups, but investigators found that rural women were less likely to have their ER status tested and their tumor graded. In addition, rural women were more likely to choose to undergo mastectomy rather than lumpectomy, whereas those who did choose lumpectomy were less likely to receive the recommended radiotherapy after surgery.

Elizabeth Habermann, PhD, associate scientific director of surgical outcomes at the Mayo Clinic Center for the Science of Health Care Delivery in Rochester, Minnesota, and one of the study authors, says that the results are concerning because the lack of radiotherapy could lead to disease recurrence and additional surgery. She and her colleagues recommend more research to determine why rural women are less likely to opt for lumpectomy and to receive the recommended treatment. Interventions can address these gaps, they add.

Figure 1.

Rural women with breast cancer are less likely than urban women to receive radiotherapy after lumpectomy.