U of M Study Shows Residence Impacts Colon Cancer Outcomes
New research from the University of Minnesota shows that where you live could determine your chances of surviving colon cancer. The study shows colon cancer patients living in rural areas are less likely to get an early diagnosis, chemotherapy or thorough surgical treatment compared to urban patients.
"There are many, many good rural surgeons out there, just as there are many good urban surgeons. Ultimately our study shows that, regardless of where you got treated, you still did worse," said Dr. Christopher Chow, Surgical Resident at the University of Minnesota and lead author of the study.
Chow and other researchers studied a group of California patients. About 15 percent lived in rural areas. Overall, rural patients had a 5 percent higher risk of death.
"For a given cancer, the rural patient was less likely to get an adequate surgery, less likely to get recommended chemotherapy. Why that is the case, we don't know," Chow said.
"Whenever I walk into a building, the first thing I do is find out where the restroom is," said Jaimie Mattes, a 42-year-old colon cancer survivor.
Mattes was almost 32-years-old when he was diagnosed, but his symptoms started in his 20's as a student in Marshall, Minnesota.
"I was in college, and I was in a small town and the doctor said, this is probably what you have, just take these pills and monitor it," Mattes said.
Mattes later moved to the Twin Cities which is where he was diagnosed and treated. Through organizations like the Colon Cancer Coalition, he has connected to other survivors.
"There's so many places out there now that you can find the help, or the conversation or the research is out there," Mattes said.
Colon cancer is the second leading cancer killer for men and women combined in the United States. This year, more than 50 thousand people will die from the disease.