Jennifer L. Moss, PhD, on Cancer Mortality in Persistent Poverty Counties

October 6, 2020

Moss indicated that “we need interventions in these communities to change cancer-causing behaviors, to make cancer screening more accessible, to improve treatment, and to promote quality of life and survivorship.”

Study findings published in Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention suggested that cancer mortality is higher in counties that experience persistent poverty compared to other counties, including those currently experiencing poverty.1

“We need interventions in these communities to change cancer-causing behaviors, to make cancer screening more accessible, to improve treatment, and to promote quality of life and survivorship,” lead author Jennifer L. Moss, PhD, assistant professor in the Department of Family and Community Medicine at Penn State College of Medicine in Hershey, Pennsylvania, said in a press release.2 “Efforts to reduce the risk of cancer in these counties will require strategic coordination, collaboration, and funding, with input from community members every step of the way.”

Counties which have persistent poverty generally have larger populations of racial and ethnic minorities, more children under the age of 18, less formal education, and greater unemployment. Further, they also tend to be more likely to have high rates of cancer risk factors such as obesity or cigarette smoking.

Though the exact reasons for the elevated cancer mortality rates in counties experiencing persistent poverty versus other counties is not yet known, the investigators indicated that along with high rates of cancer risk behaviors and lower rates of cancer screening, larger scale, infrastructural issues, such as reduced access to health care, may have contributed to mortality risk.

In an interview with CancerNetwork®, Moss discussed these study findings and what patients who live in these geographic regions can do to advocate for themselves.

This segment comes from the CancerNetwork® portion of the MJH Life Sciences Medical World News, airing daily on all MJH Life Sciences channels.

References:

1. Moss JL, Pinto CN, Srinivasan S, Cronin KA, Croyle RT. Persistent Poverty and Cancer Mortality Rates: An Analysis of County-Level Poverty Designations. Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention. doi: 10.1158/1055-9965.EPI-20-0007

2. Counties with Persistent Poverty Rates Experience Higher Rates of Cancer Deaths [news release]. Philadelphia. Published September 30, 2020. Accessed September 30, 2020.