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Rural Women Less Likely to be Treated with Radiation Therapy Following Lumpectomy

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Based on a study conducted by the Mayo Clinic and other participants have discovered that rural women with breast cancers are less likely to be administered supplementary radiation therapy following a lumpectomy, which is a breast-sparing surgery that takes out only tumors and surrounding tissue, than their urban counterparts.

The difference is one of many rural discrepancies in breast cancer diagnosis and method of treatment, the researchers found. The discoveries are set to be revealed at the Academy Health Annual Research Meeting in Baltimore.

"These study results are concerning. All women should receive guideline recommended cancer care, regardless of where they live,” said associate scientific director, Surgical Outcomes, Mayo Clinic Center for the Science of Health Care Delivery, Elizabeth Habermann, Ph.D.rural womem

By using the 1996 to 2008 California Cancer Registry, the research teams from Mayo Clinic, the University of Minnesota and Georgetown University, examined the treatment administered to approximately 350,000 urban and rural women, who all had stages of breast cancer.

And despite there being no real difference in mortality rates between the two groups, researchers discovered that rural women were less likely to have their estrogen receptor status tested and their tumor scaled and rated, which are two crucial steps in the diagnostic process for breast cancer.

Furthermore, rural women were also more prone to selecting and settling on the procedure of mastectomy, which is the complete removal of the breast, over a lumpectomy procedure.

The study eventually determined that rural women who selected lumpectomy were less likely to receive supplementary radiation therapy after the surgery.

"The lumpectomy findings are worrisome because lack of follow-up radiation therapy could lead to recurrence, another surgery, and another time period of concern for the woman and her family," said Habermann.

The research team suggested delving deeper into the findings that suggest rural women are less likely to prefer breast conserving therapy and receive recommended cancer diagnosis and treatment. From there, conferences and seminars can then be held to discuss and address the disparity gaps that exist between rural and urban women.

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