Introduction: Despite advances in oncology therapies and surgical techniques, survival from oesophagogastric cancer remains low. Poorer cancer outcomes and survival for rural dwellers is documented worldwide and has been an area of focus in Scotland since 2007 when changes to suspected cancer national referral guidelines and governmental mandates on delivering remote and rural healthcare occurred. Whether these changes in clinical practice has impacted upon upper gastrointestinal cancer remains unclear.
Methods: A prospective, single-centre observation study was performed. Data from the regional oesophagogastric cancer MDT between 2013 and 2019 were included. The Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation 2020 tool provided a rurality code (1 or 2) based on patient postcode at time of referral. Survival outcomes for urban and rural patients were compared across demographic factors, disease factors and stage at presentation.
Results: A total of 1038 patients were included in this study. There was no significant difference between rural and urban groups in terms of sex of patient, age at diagnosis, cancer location, or tumour stage. Furthermore, no difference was identified between those commenced on a radical therapy with other treatment plans. Despite this, rurality predicted for an improved outcome on survival analysis (p = 0.012) and this was independent of other factors on multivariable analysis (HR = 0.78, 95%CI 0.66–0.98; p = 0.032).
Discussion: The difference in survival demonstrated here between urban and rural groups is not easily explained but may represent improvements to rural access to healthcare delivered as a result of Scottish Government reports.
No funding was used in the production of this work.
- Gastric cancer
- Oesophageal cancer
- Oesophagogastric cancer