Background: Late stage of cancer at diagnosis is an important predictor of cancer mortality. In many areas worldwide, cancer registry systems, available data and mapping technologies can provide information about late stage cancer by geographical regions, offering valuable opportunities to identify areas where further investigation and interventions are needed. The current study examined geographical variation in late stage breast cancer incidence across eight states in the United States with the objective to identify areas that might benefit from targeted interventions.
Methods: Data from the Surveillance Epidemiology and End Results Program on late stage breast cancer incidence was used as dependent variable in regression analysis and certain factors known to contribute to high rates of late stage cancer (socioeconomic characteristics, health insurance characteristics, and the availability and utilization of cancer screening) as covariates. Geographic information systems were used to map and highlight areas that have any combination of high late stage breast cancer incidence and significantly associated risk factors.
Results: The differences in mean rates of late stage breast cancer between eight states considered in this analysis are statistically significant. Factors that have statistically negative association with late stage breast cancer incidence across the eight states include: density of mammography facilities, percent population with Bachelor's degree and English literacy while percent black population has statistically significant positive association with late stage breast cancer incidence.
Conclusions: This study describes geographic disparities in late stage breast cancer incidence and identifies areas that might benefit from targeted interventions. The results suggest that in the eight US states examined, higher rates of late stage breast cancer are more common in areas with predominantly black population, where English literacy, percentage of population with college degree and screening availability are low. The approach described in this work may be utilized both within and outside US, wherever cancer registry systems and technologies offer the same opportunity to identify places where further investigation and interventions for reducing cancer burden are needed.