Geographical Location and Stage of Breast Cancer Diagnosis: A Systematic Review of the Literature


Objective: To examine systematically the literature on the effect of geographical location variation on breast cancer stage at diagnosis, race/ethnicity, and socioeconomic status.

Methods. Eight electronic databases were searched using combination of key words. Of the 312 articles retrieved from the search, 36 studies from 12 countries were considered eligible for inclusion.

Results. This review identified 17 (47%) of 36 studies in which breast cancer patients residing in geographically remote/rural areas had more late-stage diagnosis than urban women. Ten (28%) studies reported higher proportions of women diagnosed with breast cancer resided in urban than rural counties. Nine (25%) studies reported no statistically significant association between place of residence and stage at diagnosis for breast cancer patients residing in rural and urban areas.

Conclusions. Cancer patients residing in rural and disadvantaged areas were more likely to be diagnosed with distant breast metastasis. Efforts to reduce these inequalities and subsequent mortality are needed.