Rates of invasive cancer are actually slightly higher in large metropolitan counties in the U.S. than in nonmetropolitan rural counties, however differences exist depending on the type of cancer. For example, rates of breast and prostate cancer are higher in large metropolitan counties, but rates of lung and bronchus and colon and rectum cancer are higher in nonmetropolitan rural counties. Nevertheless, death rates from cancer tend to be higher in rural areas, despite having slighter lower cancer rates, perhaps highlighting a lack in proper treatment and access to care.
Disparities also exist concerning mental health. From 2013 to 2015, the suicide rate among those living in large metropolitan areas was around 13 per 100,000 population, while people living in rural areas died from suicide at a rate of almost 20 per 100,000 population. In particular, suicide death rates from firearms are almost double in rural areas than in urban areas.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has recently focused more on the issue of health disparities in rural America and has outlined ways in which these disparities can be addressed. These include reducing obesity through healthy eating and physical activity, promoting smoking cessation, and increasing early detection and prevention of cancer. The rise of digital health, or telehealth, also offers hope in solving this problem by offering easier access to health services and education.