How Wealth, Race, and Rural Areas May Affect the Recurrence of Breast, Lung, and Colorectal Cancer

Michael Hassett, MD, MPH 
Institution: Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston
Area of Focus: Cancer Control 
Grant Term: 7/1/2018 to 6/30/2021

The Challenge: Research has shown that disparities in cancer care exist for people who are African American, have low incomes, and who live in rural areas. But few studies have looked at whether race, income level, or location might affect the possibility of recurrence, when cancer returns after it’s been treated. That’s largely because cancer registries that collect and store information about patients who have been diagnosed with cancer haven’t routinely asked doctors to report information about recurrence. 

The Research: Michael Hassett, MD, MPH, and his team developed a set of tools that works with databases of health records determine which patients had a recurrence of breast, lung, and colon cancer – three of the most common types of cancer.

Hassett’s team will use those tools to see whether race or ethnicity, income, or living in a rural area affects recurrence rates. They’ll also look at whether the type of hospital where people received cancer care makes a difference.  

The Goal and Long-term Possibilities: Hassett’s work may help others develop ways to address the health disparities that disadvantaged groups with cancer face.