(Reuters) - Cancer deaths in America's rural areas are not falling as much as they are in urban areas even though the total deaths from the disease are dropping across the country, a U.S health agency report showed, emphasizing the gap in access to healthcare.
Cancer accounted for 180 deaths per 100,000 persons in rural areas annually compared with 158 deaths in urban areas, according to a report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released on Thursday.
Rural areas, however, reported fewer new cancer cases at 442 per 100,000 persons compared with 457 cases in urban areas.
But for cancers that are often associated with tobacco use such as lung or those that can be diagnosed through early screenings, including colorectal and cervical, the rate of incidence is higher in rural areas, the report said.
"While geography alone can't predict your risk of cancer, it can impact prevention, diagnosis and treatment opportunities – and that's a significant public health problem," said acting CDC Director Anne Schuchat.
More than 46 million Americans, or 15 percent of the country's population, live in rural areas, and face numerous health disparities compared to their urban counterparts, according to the CDC.
The drop in cancer deaths in the United States can be partly attributed to advances in oncological drug research.
But despite a spate of recent approvals, competition between newer drugs has not brought down prices, which can now top $250,000 a year.
Reporting by Natalie Grover in Bengaluru; Editing by Arun Koyyur