Estimates of those living in rural counties vary from 46.2 to 59 million, or 14% to 19% of the U.S. population. Rural communities face disadvantages compared with urban areas, including higher poverty, lower educational attainment, and lack of access to health services. We aimed to demonstrate rural-urban disparities in cancer and to examine NCI-funded cancer control grants focused on rural populations. Estimates of 5-year cancer incidence and mortality from 2009 to 2013 were generated for counties at each level of the rural-urban continuum and for metropolitan versus nonmetropolitan counties, for all cancers combined and several individual cancer types. We also examined the number and foci of rural cancer control grants funded by NCI from 2011 to 2016. Cancer incidence was 447 cases per 100,000 in metropolitan counties and 460 per 100,000 in nonmetropolitan counties (P < 0.001). Cancer mortality rates were 166 per 100,000 in metropolitan counties and 182 per 100,000 in nonmetropolitan counties (P < 0.001). Higher incidence and mortality in rural areas were observed for cervical, colorectal, kidney, lung, melanoma, and oropharyngeal cancers. There were 48 R-and 3 P-mechanism rural-focused grants funded from2011 to 2016 (3% of 1,655). Further investment is needed to disentangle the effects of individual-level SES and area-level factors to understand observed effects of rurality on cancer.
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