Retrospective analysis of association of living in USDA classified food deserts with differences in mortality and disease status of cancer cases among patients identified in the Fort Worth Adolescent and Young Adult Oncology Coalition (FWAYAOC) Database




Winn, Andi


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Purpose: Food deserts are low income and low access areas in which access to healthy food products is highly restricted or non-existent. They are most commonly found within low-income minority communities. Residency in such areas has been linked to several health conditions including obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular complications and even cancer. By analyzing the Fort Worth Adolescent and Young Adult Oncology Coalition (FWAYAOC) database for patient residency in food deserts, there is potential to find variations in disease status caused not only by differences in nutritional status, but also the socioeconomic factors affecting these areas. Methods: In this retrospective analysis, data from the FWAYAOC database was used to identify adolescent and young adult cancer patients treated at local Fort Worth hospitals in the years 2016-2020. Patient zip code at time of diagnosis was linked to food desert residency utilizing the USDA Food Access Research Atlas. Differences in mortality and disease status were compared by food desert residential status. Results: Among 1035 adolescent and young adult cancer patients identified, 40.40% resided in food deserts. Survival rates for food desert residents was 94.5% compared with 95.0% for non-desert residents, and mortality rates were 5.5 deaths per 100 patients and 5.0 deaths per 100 patients respectively. Food desert residency was associated with higher tobacco use, poor insurance coverage, and higher proportions of minority and Hispanic individuals. Females represented the majority population of each group, and the average patient age was 30 years for both. Food desert residents represented a higher diagnostic proportion for malignant neoplasms of digestive organs, respiratory and intrathoracic organs, bone and articular cartilage, bone marrow, female and male genital organs, urinary tract, central nervous system, and endocrine glands. Conclusion: Survival and mortality rates were slightly worse for individuals living in food deserts. Poor nutritional status found within these areas, along with contributing socioeconomic factors, could be underlying factors leading to differences in disease prognosis between the two groups. Identifying such disparities affecting adolescent and young adult cancer patients can identify areas for future efforts to improve health and disease outcomes for this unique group of patients. Acknowledgement: This work is partially supported by a grant (#RP210046) from the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas (CPRIT).