Your Cancer Survival Rate May Be A Matter of Participating in Clinical Trials, or Not

Research has shown that cancer patients in rural areas have lower survival rates than those in urban areas. For example, cancer death rates between 2011 and 2015 were 180 per 100,000 people in rural areas and 158 per 100,000 people in urban areas, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

But in the new study, researchers found that the survival rate gap shrank when urban and rural cancer patients were all participants in clinical trials. A review of cancer clinical trials contends that the differences in survival rates between rural and urban cancer patients may be due to the kind of care they receive.

The study looked at nearly 37,000 cancer patients from across the United States who took part in phase 2 or phase 3 clinical trials between 1986 and 2012. The patients had any of 17 different types of cancer, including brain, breast, colon, leukemia, lung, lymphoma and ovarian and prostate tumors.

In the five years after enrollment in the trials, there was no significant difference in survival rates between rural and urban patients for all of the types of cancer except one. Rural patients with estrogen receptor-negative, progesterone receptor-negative breast cancer didn’t