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

d the disease of its deadly status. The CDC report noted that it currently ranks second among cancers as a killer of American men and women, and the American Cancer Society (ACS) report characterizes it as the nation's number three cancer killer.

Part of the continuing problem, according to the CDC, is that despite the availability of highly effective screening techniques, only two-thirds of Americans got tested for the disease in 2010. And although that figure represents a significant jump in screening rates (52 percent to 65 percent), 22 million men and women still did not get screened.

However, the CDC noted that colon cancer death rates have nonetheless plunged dramatically.

To dig a little deeper into how that breaks down state by state, the ACS authors analyzed 17 years of information reported by the National Center for Health Statistics.

The bottom line: Overall, the northeast saw a far greater drop in colorectal death rates than did the south.

For example, the team noted that northern states such as New York and Massachusetts saw their decline in colorectal cancer death rates pick up significant speed over the study period, from an annual drop of 2.5 percent n the 1990s to a annual drop of between 4 percent and 5 percent in the 2000s.

By contrast, southern states like Mississippi and Alabama saw their annual death rates remain more or less constant over the same timeframe.

Interestingly, the researchers found that over the study period the highest colorectal cancer death rates migrated. While the highest death rates had been found among northeastern states in the 1990s, by the mid-2000s the highest death rates were in states in the Appalachian corridor.

To get at what might be driving these state-by-state trends, Jemal and his associates stressed the marked regional differences in insurance coverage. For example, U.S. Census Bureau numbers for 2007 revealed that while nearly 19 percent of Mississippians and Lou
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