Background: Health care disparities have been documented in rural populations. The authors hypothesized that breast cancer patients in urban counties would have higher rates of postmastectomy breast reconstruction relative to patients in surrounding near-metro and rural counties.
Methods: The authors used the Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results database to identify patients diagnosed with breast cancer and treated with mastectomy in the greater Sacramento area between 2000 and 2006. Counties were categorized as urban, near-metro, or rural. Univariate models evaluated the relationship of rural, near-metro, or urban location with use of breast reconstruction by means of the chi-square test. Multivariate logistic regression models controlling for patient, tumor, and treatment-related factors predicted use of breast reconstruction. The likelihood of undergoing breast reconstruction was reported as odds ratios with 95 percent confidence intervals; significance was set at p ≤ 0.05.
Results: Complete information was available for 3552 breast cancer patients treated with mastectomy. Of these, 718 (20.2 percent) underwent breast reconstruction. On univariate analysis, differences in the rates of breast reconstruction were noted among urban, near-metro, and rural areas (p < 0.001). On multivariate analysis, patients from rural (odds ratio, 0.51; 95 percent confidence interval, 0.28 to 0.93; p < 0.03) and near-metro (odds ratio, 0.73; 95 percent confidence interval, 0.59 to 0.89; p = 0.002) areas had a decreased likelihood of undergoing breast reconstruction relative to patients from urban areas.
Conclusions: Patients from near-metro and rural areas are less likely to undergo breast reconstruction following mastectomy for breast cancer than their urban counterparts. Differences in use of breast reconstruction detected at a population level should guide future interventions to increase rates of breast reconstruction at the local level.