Disparities in geospatial patterns of cancer care within urban counties and structural inequities in access to oncology care

Health Serv Res. 2023 Aug;58 Suppl 2(Suppl 2):152-164. doi: 10.1111/1475-6773.14182. Epub 2023 May 19.


Objective: To examine geospatial patterns of cancer care utilization across diverse populations in New Jersey-a state where most residents live in urban areas.

Data sources/study setting: We used data from the New Jersey State Cancer Registry from 2012 to 2014.

Study design: We examined the location of cancer treatment among patients 20-65 years of age diagnosed with breast, colorectal, or invasive cervical cancer and investigated differences in geospatial patterns of care by individual and area-level (e.g., census tract-level) characteristics.

Data collection/extraction methods: Multivariate generalized estimating equation models were used to determine factors associated with receiving cancer treatment within residential counties, residential hospital service areas, and in-state (versus out-of-state) care.

Principal findings: We observed significant differences in geospatial patterns of cancer treatment by race/ethnicity, insurance type, and area-level factors. Even after adjusting for tumor characteristics, insurance type, and other demographic factors, non-Hispanic Black patients had a 5.6% higher likelihood of receiving care within their own residential county compared to non-Hispanic White patients (95% CI: 2.80-8.41). Patients insured with Medicaid and those without insurance had higher likelihoods of receiving care within their residential county compared to privately insured individuals. Patients living in census tracts with the highest quintile of social vulnerability were 4.6% more likely to receive treatment within their residential county (95% CI: 0.00-9.30) and were 2.7% less likely to seek out-of-state care (95% CI: -4.85 to -0.61).

Conclusions: Urban populations are not homogenous in their geospatial patterns of cancer care utilization, and individuals living in areas with greater social vulnerability may have limited opportunities to access care outside of their immediate residential county. Geographically tailored efforts, along with socioculturally tailored efforts, are needed to help improve equity in cancer care access.

Keywords: cancer care delivery; cancer registry; geospatial factors; health equity; urban populations.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Black or African American
  • Breast Neoplasms* / epidemiology
  • Colorectal Neoplasms* / epidemiology
  • Ethnicity
  • Female
  • Healthcare Disparities*
  • Humans
  • Insurance*
  • Male
  • Medicaid
  • Middle Aged
  • New Jersey
  • United States
  • Uterine Cervical Neoplasms* / epidemiology
  • White
  • Young Adult