July 7, 2011 / 2:26 PM / 8 years ago

Northeast U.S. has big drop in colon cancer deaths

WASHINGTON (Reuters Life!) - The Northeast United States has seen a large drop in deaths from colorectal cancer, while states in the southern portion of the country lag behind, according to a report released on Thursday.

The decline in death rates between 1990-1994 and 2003-2007 ranged from 9 percent in Alabama to more than 33 percent in Massachusetts, Rhode Island, New York and Alaska, the study sponsored by the American Cancer Society showed.

Epidemiologist Ahmedin Jemal said in the report that the disparities in death rates from the second leading cancer killer in the U.S. may reflect “differences in uptake of screening, treatment, and known risk factors.”

“Compared with other geographic areas, southern states have a larger proportion of the population that is poor and uninsured, among whom screening rates are lower,” the report said.

The findings are based on cancer data for each state from 1990 until 2007. The study comes on the heels of a Centers for Disease Control (CDC) study released this week that also found screening for colon cancer has increased and deaths were down.

The rate of new colorectal cancer cases in the U.S. dropped to 45.4 per 100,000 people in 2007 from 52.3 per 100,000 people in 2003, representing nearly 66,000 fewer cancers, according to the CDC.

There were 32,000 fewer deaths from the disease during that time, CDC researchers said in the agency’s newsletter, “Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.”

Reporting by Wendell Marsh; Editing by Jerry Norton

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