Study shows breast cancer treatment differs in rural, urban areasA new Mayo Clinic study finds that women who live in rural areas tend to fight their breast cancer differently than women living in urban areas.
By: By Maureen McCollum, Wisconsin Public Radio, Superior Telegram
A new Mayo Clinic study finds that women who live in rural areas tend to fight their breast cancer differently than women living in urban areas.
A woman diagnosed with breast cancer has a few treatment options. She could get a mastectomy and have her entire breast removed, or she could have a lumpectomy, removing part of the breast tissue. After a lumpectomy, she would have to undergo radiation therapy to make sure the cancer doesn’t return.
In a joint study including Mayo Clinic, researchers found that women diagnosed with breast cancer in rural areas more likely to get a mastectomy. It also found that rural women who get lumpectomies are less likely to follow up with radiation treatment.
Dr. Elizabeth Habermann worked on the study and is the associate scientific director for surgical outcomes at Mayo Clinic.
“We are concerned that those who are having lumpectomy are not getting that post-operative radiation and if that’s going to be a concern for women who live in rural areas, perhaps they should be counseled or encouraged to choose a mastectomy instead,” she said.
Habermann says there are cancer care disparities in rural areas.
Dr. Noelle LoConte is an oncologist who works with the Wisconsin Comprehensive Cancer Control Program. She says women in rural areas generally have to drive further to receive radiation therapy.
“Women sometimes have to make that very difficult decision of, ‘OK, I can do this definitive one-time surgery and lose my breast. Or, I have to decide between really compromising my quality of life for a two-month period so I can get daily radiotherapy,'” LoConte said.
Almost 50 facilities in Wisconsin offer radiation therapy and most are located in more populated areas.