Deaths from colon cancer continue to decline across the United States — in all but one state, health officials said Tuesday.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a report this week that found evidence of a national decline in colon cancer deaths by as much as a five and six percent decrease in a few states — Massachusetts, Connecticut and Rhode Island. However, Mississippi was the only state that lacked a decline, according to the CDC report.
The big picture is screenings are up, death rates are down, and even more progress is possible, CDC's director, Dr. Thomas Frieden, told the AP.
Colon cancer deaths can be reduced through screening and early diagnosis. Nearly two-thirds of people ages 50 to 75 getting recommended testing. But Mississippi had one of the nation's lowest screening rates, at about 58 percent.
The study, which was based on national telephone interviews and databases, found that from 2003 to 2007, the colon and rectal cancer death rate in the U.S. fell from 19 to 17 per 100,000 people, representing roughly 32,000 fewer deaths, the agency noted.
CDC officials said Mississippi's lack of progress could be caused by a number of factors, although an adequate follow-up treatment, healthy diet and exercise, can potentially curve the cancer. Officials report that previous research shows that blacks die of colon cancer at higher rates than any other racial group, while blacks account for 37 percent of Mississippi's residents, compared to 13 percent of the nation's population.
Colon cancer is the second leading cancer cause of death in non-smokers, according to the CDC. In 2007, 142,672 people in the United States were diagnosed with colorectal cancer, and 53,219 people in the United States died from colorectal cancer. The American Cancer Society reports more than 49,000 Americans will die of colon cancer this year, yet death rates have been going down for both men and women since the 1980s.
On Tuesday, Frieden told reporters that he recently had his second colonoscopy and four polyps removed that could have become cancerous. If you find out early enough, you can prevent cancer, he added.