The Intersection of Rural Residence and Minority Race/Ethnicity in Cancer Disparities in the United States

Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2021 Feb 3;18(4):1384. doi: 10.3390/ijerph18041384.


One in every twenty-five persons in America is a racial/ethnic minority who lives in a rural area. Our objective was to summarize how racism and, subsequently, the social determinants of health disproportionately affect rural racial/ethnic minority populations, provide a review of the cancer disparities experienced by rural racial/ethnic minority groups, and recommend policy, research, and intervention approaches to reduce these disparities. We found that rural Black and American Indian/Alaska Native populations experience greater poverty and lack of access to care, which expose them to greater risk of developing cancer and experiencing poorer cancer outcomes in treatment and ultimately survival. There is a critical need for additional research to understand the disparities experienced by all rural racial/ethnic minority populations. We propose that policies aim to increase access to care and healthcare resources for these communities. Further, that observational and interventional research should more effectively address the intersections of rurality and race/ethnicity through reduced structural and interpersonal biases in cancer care, increased data access, more research on newer cancer screening and treatment modalities, and continued intervention and implementation research to understand how evidence-based practices can most effectively reduce disparities among these populations.

Keywords: access to care; cancer disparities; cancer outcomes; cancer surveillance; racial/ethnic minorities; rural; social determinants of health.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Black or African American
  • Ethnicity*
  • Health Services Accessibility
  • Healthcare Disparities
  • Humans
  • Minority Groups
  • Neoplasms*
  • Rural Population
  • United States / epidemiology