Cancer care has greatly improved in the last few decades, as evidenced by a 22% decline in the overall cancer-related death rate in the United States since 1991. However, the question presents itself whether rural residents, for whom the latest advancements are not as accessible, are also realizing these benefits as much as their urban counterparts. The aim of this study is to provide are view of the literature regarding the disparities in cancer care facing rural Appalachia and specifically West Virginia (WV) as well as possible solutions towards bridging this gap. We find that WV has a higher cancer incidence and mortality rate with fewer oncologists per resident, while rural areas in general have lower clinical trial participation and different treatment regimens. Though programs have been put in place such as mobile mammography clinics and local outreach, more work can be done in WV in the realms of teleoncology, virtual tumor boards, patient support groups, and physician training programs.
Singh R, Goebel LJ. Rural disparities in cancer care: A review of its implications and possible interventions. West Virginia Medical Journal (Special CME Issue). May/June 2016;112(3):76-82.