Rurality and other determinants of early colorectal cancer diagnosis in Nebraska: a 6-year cancer registry study, 1998-2003

J Rural Health. Fall 2009;25(4):358-65. doi: 10.1111/j.1748-0361.2009.00244.x.


Background: There are no studies of rurality, and other determinants of colorectal cancer (CRC) stage at diagnosis with population-based data from the Midwest.

Methods: This retrospective study identified, incident CRC patients, aged 19 years and older, from 1998-2003 Nebraska Cancer Registry (NCR) data. Using federal Office of Management and Budget classifications, we grouped patients by residence in metropolitan, micropolitan nonmetropolitan, or rural nonmetropolitan counties (non-core based statistical areas). In univariate and multivariate logistic regression analyses, we examined the association of the county classification and of other determinants with early (in situ/local) versus late (regional/distant) stage at CRC diagnosis.

Results: Of the 6,561 CRC patients identified, 45% were from metropolitan counties, 24% from micropolitan nonmetropolitan counties and 31% from rural nonmetropolitan counties, with 32%, 38%, and 33%, respectively, being diagnosed at an early stage. Multivariate analysis showed micropolitan nonmetropolitan residents were significantly more likely than rural nonmetropolitan residents to be diagnosed at an early stage (adjusted OR, 1.22; 95% CI: 1.05-1.42, P < .05). However, rural nonmetropolitan and metropolitan residents did not significantly differ in the likelihood of early diagnosis. Residents with Medicare rather than those with private insurance (P < .0001), married rather than unmarried residents (P < .01), and residents with rectal cancer rather than those with colon cancer (P < .0001) were more likely to be diagnosed at an early stage.

Conclusions: Early CRC diagnosis needs to be increased in rural (non-core) non-metropolitan residents, unmarried residents, and those with private insurance.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / diagnosis*
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / epidemiology*
  • Delayed Diagnosis
  • Early Diagnosis*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Marital Status
  • Middle Aged
  • Nebraska / epidemiology
  • Population
  • Registries
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Young Adult