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

isianans lacked coverage at the time, that figure was just 5.4 percent in Massachusetts.

What's more, while the national poverty rate currently hovers at about 13 percent, that figure shoots up to one in five in Mississippi.

In terms of the prevalence of notable disease risk factors, the South has been less quick to kick the smoking habit than either the Northwest or West, the study authors noted, while obesity remains a greater issue in the South than in other regions of the country.

Dr. Felice Schnoll-Sussman, director of research at the Jay Monahan Center for Gastrointestinal Health at New York-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center in New York City, said that while such underlying explanations "make sense," the findings are both "surprising" and "shocking."

"You might expect there might be some difference in the death rate between, say, a state like New York where you can bump into a physician at every corner, and other places where there aren't as many," she said. "You'd think we'd find maybe a 5 or 10 percent difference. But for there to be such a large difference is really what is so shocking and sad."

"And it's really unacceptable," Schnoll-Sussman added. "Because we have already made great strides in getting the word out that colorectal cancer is identifiable and treatable. So, I would say that this study isn't so much focused on trying to answer the question as to why this is happening as it is highlighting a call for action to try and make a difference for those patients for whom likely economic disparities are playing a huge role in all of this. So we need to continue to focus on access to care, education of the patient, education of the internists, open access to endoscopy and bringing down barriers related to the fear of having a screening done. That's where we can make an impact. That's where we can make a difference."

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