Colon Cancer Deaths on the Decline in All but Three U.S. Regions, Report Says

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Newman_080715_2A new report shows significant nationwide drops in colon cancer deaths since the 1970s. While normally a cause for celebration, the report also points out three regions in the U.S. that seem to be unaffected by the declining mortality.

The report, published in the July edition of the journal Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention, and led by Rebecca Siegel, director of surveillance information at the American Cancer Society, used mapping software to compare colon cancer death rates from 1970 to 2011. Siegel and her team found 94 counties in the lower Mississippi Delta, 107 in west-central Appalachia, and 37 in eastern Virginia/North Carolina that have seen minimal change.

In comparison, across the rest of the country, colon cancer death rates have fallen by around 50% within the same time frame. Among certain demographics in the three “hot spot” regions, rates actually increased. Between 1970 and 1990, black men in the lower Mississippi Delta counties saw a 3.5% yearly increase in colon cancer death (this number has not gone down since).

The study clearly defines the vulnerable populations and areas in need of targeted intervention. Siegel points to Delaware as an example of how intervention methods can produce definite results in reducing colon cancer deaths. (Delaware has statewide screening programs that have essentially eliminated the state’s disparities within a decade.)

The study concludes that low education and little access to colon cancer screenings are possible causes for the discrepancies; researchers advocate increasing access in order to see improvements.

Source for Today’s Article:
“Colon Cancer Deaths Falling, Except in 3 U.S. Regions,” Health.com, July 8 2015; http://news.health.com/2015/07/08/colon-cancer-deaths-falling-except-in-3-u-s-regions/.

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