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Southern States Lag Behind North in Drop in Colon Cancer Death Rates
Date:7/7/2011

By Alan Mozes
HealthDay Reporter

THURSDAY, July 7 (HealthDay News) -- While there has been a significant decline in colon cancer death rates in the past two decades, a new report reveals that the downward trend is not spread evenly across the United States, with the southern part of the nation lagging far behind the north.

Focusing on the time period between 1990 and 2007, the current study found that in certain instances the growing regional gap is quite dramatic: ranging from no drop whatsoever in colon cancer mortality rates in the southern state of Mississippi to a 33 percent plummet in colon cancer deaths across the northern states of Massachusetts, Rhode Island, New York and Alaska.

"There is certainly a clear regional disparity in colorectal cancer death rates in the U.S.," noted study co-author Ahmedin Jemal, vice president for surveillance research at the American Cancer Society. "And there are several factors that might contribute to this."

"One factor may be colorectal screening rates, state-by-state," Jemal observed, "with indications of a much lower utilization of screenings in the southern states. And secondly, although we didn't collect data on treatment for colorectal cancer by states, we already know from previous studies that those who live in poorer neighborhoods and more rural areas are less likely to have insurance coverage, and less likely to receive standard treatment for colorectal cancer."

"And the third factor," he added, "is that smoking and obesity are known risk factors for colorectal cancer. And for both prevalence is much higher in the southern states, compared to other regions."

Jemal and his colleagues report their findings in the July issue of Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention.

According to a separate report issued by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention earlier this week, declining colon cancer death rates have not strippe
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