Rural residence is related to shorter survival in epithelial ovarian cancer patients

Susan K. Lutgendorf, Edgardo Ramirez, Andrew Schrepf, Mark C. Valentine, Mary Charlton, M. Bridget Zimmerman, Michael J. Goodheart, Sharaf Zia, Anil K. Sood, Premal H. Thaker

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


Objective: Rural residence has been related to health disparities and greater mortality risk in cancer patients, including gynecologic cancer patients. Lower survival rates for rural cancer survivors have been attributed to limited access to specialized healthcare, including surgery. Here, we examined whether a rural/urban survival gap existed in ovarian cancer patients receiving surgery at tertiary-care facilities, and potential causes for this gap, including educational attainment. Methods: Rural and urban patients with high grade invasive ovarian cancer (n = 342) seeking treatment at two midwestern tertiary-care university hospitals were recruited pre-surgery and followed until death or censoring date. Rural/urban residence was categorized using the USDA Rural-Urban Continuum Codes. Stratified Cox proportional hazards regression analyses, with clinical site as strata, adjusting for clinical and demographic covariates, were used to examine the effect of rurality on survival. Results: Despite specialized surgical care, rural cancer survivors showed a higher likelihood of death compared to their urban counterparts, HR = 1.39 (95% CI: 1.04, 1.85) p = 0.026, adjusted for covariates. A rurality by education interaction was observed (p = 0.027), indicating significantly poorer survival in rural vs. urban patients among those with trade school/some college education, adjusted HR = 2.49 (95% CI: 1.44, 4.30), p = 0.001; there was no rurality survival disparity for the other 2 levels of education. Conclusions: Differences in ovarian cancer survival are impacted by rurality, which is moderated by educational attainment even in patients receiving initial care in tertiary settings. Clinicians should be aware of rurality and education as potential risk factors for adverse outcomes and develop approaches to address these possible risks.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)22-28
Number of pages7
JournalGynecologic oncology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Oct 2021


  • Disparities
  • Education
  • Ovarian cancer
  • Rurality
  • Survival


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