Yet another headache for the Americans amongst the rising Covid-19 cases is the sudden rise in the number of common liver cancer cases in the rural areas of America. It is considered to be one of the fastest-growing causes of death occurring from cancer and is rising at a constant angular rate of 6%.
But what is surprising is the disparity between the number of cases in rural and urban areas. The urban people seem to suffer less from this fatal disease when compared to their rural counterparts.
Rural America Experiences A Rise In Liver Cancer Cases
According to Dr. Kali Zhou, a gastroenterologist and hepatologist at the University Of Southern California Keck School Of Medicine, Los Angeles, Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is the most common type of liver cancer found amongst Americans.
Considering the huge rural population, this situation of increasing liver cancer cases should be given more importance as it is a much underrated public health issue in most parts of America. Almost one in every five Americans is said to belong to the rural population.
Earlier, researches headed by Zhou reported that the non-urban population is likely to suffer more from cancers at their later stages and hence recorded the worst survival rates when compared to their urban counterparts.
It has been noted that mostly the Black people and American Indian or Alaskan Natives, living in the high-poverty areas of the South, suffer from this ailment. They are usually men and fall in the age group of 60 to 69.
However, in the urban localities, the rates are said to be declining both amongst men and women belonging to the Asian or Pacific Islanders and people of the Western states and fall in the age groups of 40 to 59.
A recently published study in the online journal of Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology reported a survey of Americans aged 20 years and older. The database consisted of cases that had been diagnosed between 1995 and 2016.
More than 310,000 HCC cases were recorded of which 85% was that of the urban areas and just 15% were of the rural areas. It was noted that the rate in the increase was similar from 1995 to 2009.
However, the rates began to show a decline in the urban population since 2009, with a peak in 2014 and again receding since then. By 2016, the study showed that the number of urban cases was up by 118% when compared to the rural estimations that that was up by 218 % since 1995.
Studies done on other cancer types like lung, breast, and colon among the rural people, did not show any significant rise in number. It is only the cases of HCC that are on the constant rise and researchers are attributing this to a number of factors.
According to Zhou, the two major risk factors that contribute to liver cancer are obesity and alcohol consumption. These are thought to be more prevalent in the rural areas and hence an increase in the number of cases.
Also, the healthcare sectors and physicians are more accessible for urban people which their rural halves cannot afford to. The number of healthcare facilities is less and also the doctors are few in the rural areas.
The latest findings bring new hope for the people living in the poverty areas of America who are deprived of necessary medical attention as and when required.
The present outcomes will surely help in understanding the situation and tackling the problems of inequality on the basis of medical interventions. It has also been taken into account that more health care providers should be posted in the rural areas to help the poor get better chances of survival.
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