Background: Prior studies have suggested that women living in rural areas may be less likely than women living in urban areas to have had a recent mammogram and Papanicolau (Pap) test and that rural women may face substantial barriers to receiving preventive health care services.
Methods: The authors examined both breast and cervical carcinoma screening practices of women living in rural and nonrural areas of the United States from 1998 through 1999 using data from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System. The authors limited their analyses of screening mammography and clinical breast examination to women aged 40 years or older (n = 108,326). In addition, they limited their analyses of Pap testing to women aged 18 years or older who did not have a history of hysterectomy (n = 131,813). They divided the geographic areas of residence into rural areas and small towns, suburban areas and smaller metropolitan areas, and larger metropolitan areas.
Results: Approximately 66.7% (95% confidence interval [CI] = 65.8% to 67.6%) of women aged 40 years or older who resided in rural areas had received a mammogram in the past 2 years, compared with 75.4% of women living in larger metropolitan areas (95% CI = 74.9% to 75.9%). About 73.0% (95% CI = 72.2% to 73.9%) of women aged 40 years or older who resided in rural areas had received a clinical breast examination in the past 2 years, compared with 78.2% of women living in larger metropolitan areas (95% CI = 77.8% to 78.7%). About 81.3% (95% CI = 80.6% to 82.0%) of 131,813 rural women aged 18 years or older who had not undergone a hysterectomy had received a Pap test in the past 3 years, compared with 84.5% of women living in larger metropolitan areas (95% CI = 84.1% to 84.9%). The differences in screening across rural and nonrural areas persisted in multivariate analysis (P < 0.001).
Conclusions: These results underscore the need for continued efforts to provide breast and cervical carcinoma screening to women living in rural areas of the United States.
Copyright 2002 American Cancer Society.