Cancer and Inequality
The #2 killer in the country is devastating Black Americans and citizens in the Rust Belt
Cancer killed 600,000 people in America last year. Low-income communities and racial minorities have much higher cancer mortality rates than wealthier, Whiter individuals.
Virginia has 4 of the 6 worst counties for rates of cancer death in the country. Galax City, Virginia has the worst cancer rates at 1 out of 50 deaths, nearly 4x the US cancer average. The median household income is $35,000, 2x the national poverty rate. The county was home to the Vaughan-Bassett Furniture Co for 91 years, the largest employer in the region, before it closed its doors in 2014. Research from FiveThirtyEight explains that a lack of treatment options in Virginia leads to higher death rates. While higher rates of smoking and obesity may account for some disparities, economic and social factors are largely the cause.
Summit County, Colorado has the lowest cancer rate in the US. Unsurprisingly, Summit also has the highest life expectancy of any county in the country.
Poor access to care and delayed treatment create race-based differences in cancer survival
A cancer diagnosis in America is not just a medical issue, but a financial one as well. Cancer can bankrupt even the most well-resourced and insured families, taking individuals out of the workforce and forcing them to pay high copayments. But for families with fewer socioeconomic resources who have a higher likelihood of being uninsured or underinsured, financial strain from a cancer diagnosis is almost certain. In addition, low-income Americans often have poor access to high-quality care and experience lower screening rates, delays in treatment, and lower treatment adherence.
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