The urban-rural disparity in hepatocellular cancer (HCC) diagnoses is widening, researchers said, particularly in certain racial, income, and age groups. The authors reported their study results in Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology.

Using data from the North American Association of Central Cancer Registries, researchers analyzed HCC diagnoses in adults from 1995–2016 by rural-urban residence. Of the 310,635 diagnoses, 85% were in urban areas and 15% in rural. When comparing the diagnoses over time, they found a widening gap in percent change in age-adjusted incidence rates since 1995, with a 218% increase in rural areas versus 118% for urban areas by 2016.

Of the patients living in rural areas, men, non-Hispanic Blacks, American Indian/Alaskan Natives, and those aged 60–69 years, living in the South, or living in areas with high census poverty had increased HCC incidence rates (more than 5% annual percentage change).

The findings underscore the need for oncology nurses to address social determinants of health with their patients, a key factor in the Future of Nursing: 2020–2030 report. Economic stability, geography, and access to care have implications for society’s health. Learn more about the ways ONS members are helping patients overcome those barriers with resources from ONS Voice.