CDC study shows cancer incidence lower in rural areas, death rates higher

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A new cancer study shows that people who live in rural areas have fewer incidences of cancer, but also die at a higher rate.

The Center for Disease Control analyzed cancer deaths from 2006-2015 and found that rural populations have about 180 deaths per 100,000 people, compared to 158 deaths for metropolitan areas with more than a million people. Doctors say the disparity is partially caused by the difference in lifestyle.

"We have a higher incidence rate of lung cancer in rural area and also cancer that can be prevented by screening tests such as colorectal cancer and cervical cancer,” said Sanford Health Oncologist Dr. Peter Kurniali.

Dr. Kurniali also said that along with lifestyle risks, access to screenings and other preventative health care measures play a pivotal role.

Rural states like North Dakota are vulnerable to have access gaps, putting more emphasis on the physicians that are already out there to convince their patients to get screened regularly.

"If they push hard enough, hopefully we can increase the screening rate and therefore we can catch the cancer earlier and lower the mortality rate,” said Dr. Kurniali.

From 2011-2015, more than 48,000 people in rural areas died each year from cancer, which was about 8 percent of cancer deaths nationwide.