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While colon cancer death rates are falling overall, the disease remains prevalent in several southern states, according to a report published in the journal Cancer Epidemiology. The authors note that low rates of colon cancer testing in these states are largely to blame.
For the past two decades, colon cancer rates have been falling dramatically. It remains the third leading cause of cancer-related death among men and women, but the prevalence is dropping. However, it is diminishing in some states faster than others.
For example, the American Cancer Society researchers who conducted the study found that between 1990 and 2007 colon cancer rates dropped in Massachusetts by 37 percent. However, they remained level in Mississippi during this time.
The results also showed that states that saw declines in cancer rates experienced increases in the number of people who sought colon cancer testing. The two figures were closely linked.
"It used to be that the highest rates of colorectal cancer mortality were in the northeastern part of the United States, but now we've really seen a switch," said Elizabeth Jacobs, who wrote an editorial accompanying the study. "It shows the importance of access to screening."
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