Fox Chase and Temple Researchers Study Colon Cancer Survival Disparities Using Residential History

PHILADELPHIA (August 5, 2020)—In a study published online today, researchers from Fox Chase Cancer Center and Temple University used a novel approach to analyzing cancer survival disparities in relation to residence by incorporating residential mobility.

By taking residential mobility into consideration, researchers were able to look at the socioeconomic status of patients based on their residential neighborhood, which was defined using census tracts, and whether it changed over time.

The study, “Residential Mobility and Geospatial Disparities in Colon Cancer Survival,” was published in Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention, a journal of the American Association for Cancer Research.

“We do know from previous studies that geographic location, neighborhoods where people live, and also the social economic status of those neighborhoods, influences survival and, therefore, the risk of death. Our motivation in this study was mostly to investigate the relationship between the residential mobility and colon cancer survival,” said Daniel Wiese, lead author on the study and doctoral student at Temple University.

“All the previous studies and models assume that cancer patients after the diagnosis are not mobile and stay in the same neighborhood after diagnosis. We know that this is not true and some patients do change residence after diagnosis,” said Wiese.

The study, funded by the National Science Foundation, investigated residential history data for up to 10 years following a diagnosis in 3,949 regional-stage colon cancer cases diagnosed from 2006 to 2011 in the state of New Jersey.

Wiese conducted the research with Shannon Lynch, PhD, MPH, assistant professor in the Cancer Prevention and Control Program at Fox Chase, and investigators from Temple University’s Department of Computer and Information Sciences, and Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey. He worked under the direction of Kevin A. Henry, PhD, assistant professor in the Cancer Prevention and Control Program at Fox Chase and an associate professor in the Department of Geography and Urban Studies at Temple University.

“The methods used in this study to analyze change in residence over time is an important contribution to cancer surveillance literature,” Lynch said.

“This study allows us to expand what we’ve already been doing,” Henry added, “which is focus on assessing patient survival in relation to neighborhood social economic status, as well as look at where survival is worse and how geographic variation in survival is impacted by residential mobility of the cases.”

The results showed that about 65% of patients remained in the same neighborhood following diagnosis, but 35% moved one or more times and about 12.1% of them moved out of New Jersey after diagnosis.

“In terms of spatial mobility, we found that including residential histories might give us a more accurate estimate of the risk of death of colon cancer after diagnosis than using only the neighborhood location at the time of diagnosis,” Wiese said.

He added that next steps in the study will be to analyze not only regional-stage colon cancer but all of the colon cancer cases from New Jersey. Additionally, Wiese said they would like to investigate how the residential mobility of people influences their cancer staging by looking at whether an individual’s residency before diagnosis affects their outcome.

Fox Chase Cancer Center (Fox Chase), which includes the Institute for Cancer Research and the American Oncologic Hospital and is a part of Temple Health, is one of the leading comprehensive cancer centers in the United States. Founded in 1904 in Philadelphia as one of the nation’s first cancer hospitals, Fox Chase was also among the first institutions to be designated a National Cancer Institute Comprehensive Cancer Center in 1974. Fox Chase is also one of just 10 members of the Alliance of Dedicated Cancer Centers. Fox Chase researchers have won the highest awards in their fields, including two Nobel Prizes. Fox Chase physicians are also routinely recognized in national rankings, and the Center’s nursing program has received the Magnet recognition for excellence five consecutive times. Today, Fox Chase conducts a broad array of nationally competitive basic, translational, and clinical research, with special programs in cancer prevention, detection, survivorship, and community outreach. It is the policy of Fox Chase Cancer Center that there shall be no exclusion from, or participation in, and no one denied the benefits of, the delivery of quality medical care on the basis of race, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity/expression, disability, age, ancestry, color, national origin, physical ability, level of education, or source of payment.

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