Neighborhood poverty (odds ratio = 1.07; 95% CI, 1.01-1.12) had the second-strongest correlation.

Dr Lynch said that associations between poor outcomes, poverty, and lack of access are well known, suggesting the plausibility of the assumptions of the new method. NWAS findings may be more informative than previous studies because of the specificity or more complex nature of the top variables identified in the NWAS.

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“One of the limitations of the existing studies is inconsistent definitions of the term, ‘poverty,’” she said. “The variables I found are more specific. It’s not just poverty or income; it’s income level plus age plus race. This information can then be used to narrow down and identify neighborhoods that have these specific characteristics, which could help, from a resource-allocation perspective, to better determine which neighborhoods are in need of prostate cancer-related interventions.”

Dr Lynch said that NWAS is “an initial step in the process to better understand and address health disparities,” though it still needs to be validated by larger studies. She hopes to use the data from NWAS to support multilevel, multidisciplinary studies, such as a neighborhood-by-gene study, to better understand health disparities in prostate cancer. She’s already started working on her next project to improve the methodology.

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“One of the things I’m doing now is comparing my NWAS findings to standard sets of census variables used in other studies, which have looked at health outcomes more broadly, though not specifically prostate cancers” she said. “I’m looking to see if NWAS variables can be more predictive and improve existing ways of identifying and looking at neighborhood and cancer.”


  1. Lynch S, Mitra N, Ross M, et al. A neighborhood-wide association study (NWAS) in prostate cancer: A new methodologic approach. Paper presented at: American Association for Cancer Research Annual Meeting 2016; April 2016; New Orleans, LA.