Abstract: An increase in the proportion of advanced malignancies among rural residents has been noted and may be due to a combination of factors, including availability of screening services, demographic characteristics, and access to health care facilities. A cross-sectional study was conducted in 33 nonmetropolitan Iowa counties among randomly selected middle-aged farm and rural nonfarm adults to compare utilization of cancer early detection services. A total of 1,126 adults in 600 farm households and 1,092 adults in 589 rural nonfarm households provided information through a 155-item in-home interview.

Differences in income, age, and health insurance coverage (including preventive services) between the farm and nonfarm study populations were found. Although farm men were less likely to have had a checkup during the past year than men in the nonfarm population, no difference was found for women. Overall, differences in screening behaviors were small. Larger differences between both populations were observed for use of mammograms, prostate examinations among men age 50 and older, use of sigmoidoscopy among women age 50 and older, and skin cancer examinations among both sexes. When controlling for demographic characteristics and insurance coverage, members of the farm and rural nonfarm population were equally likely to use multiple screenings according to ACS guidelines. Because of the increased risk of breast cancer, interventions aimed at increasing utilization of mammography among women age 50 and older should be implemented. Although the farm population was more likely to use skin examinations, prevalence should be increased substantially to counteract the continuing rise in skin cancer.