Reader's View: Rural Minnesota needs better cancer screenings
From the letter: "Ensuring access for multi-cancer early-detection tests would be a huge win."
Recently, advances in cancer screening and treatment have steadily reduced cancer mortality rates. While this absolutely should be celebrated, a recent report from the National Grange has found that rural areas lag behind urban areas when it comes to measuring this success. Patients living in rural communities not only have overall higher cancer mortality, they also have greater rates of cancer incidence and late-stage diagnoses. Perhaps most alarming, this rural-urban divide in cancer deaths is growing.
These findings show that our rural communities need more support from lawmakers. Accessing health care in rural areas can be challenging. New multi-cancer early-detection tests can screen for dozens of deadly cancers all with a single draw of blood, with little to no complex health care infrastructure required.
Such tests could significantly improve cancer mortality rates, because when cancer is detected early, outcomes are better. Unfortunately, Medicare doesn’t currently have a way to cover these tests once they’re approved by the FDA.
Lawmakers should seriously consider what the findings in this report mean for their rural constituents. Ensuring access for multi-cancer early-detection tests would be a huge win for America’s rural communities.
Mark T. Jones
The writer is executive director of the Minnesota Rural Health Association (mnruralhealth.org), which holds its annual conference in Duluth and works closely with the medical school at UMD.
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