Risk of death from colon cancer has dropped dramatically in the past few decades. However, three areas in the United States have unexpectedly high rates of colon cancer compared to the rest of the country, according to new research.
According to findings by an American Cancer Society study, the highest colon cancer death rates are in the lower Mississippi Delta, where rates are 40 percent higher than the rest of the country.
Another hotspot is the western central Appalachia area, where deaths are 18 percent higher than average. The third highest death rate is 9 percent higher than average, in eastern Virginia and northern North Carolina.
Researchers speculate higher rates could could be related to higher poverty and obesity rates, lower education and health literacy levels or poorer access to health care - things all three regions have in common.
The quickest way to reduce this gap is increased screening, according to Rebecca Siegel, an epidemiologist with the American Cancer Society and one of the authors of the study. Regular screenings after the age of 50 can often find colon cancer in the early stages when it is still extremely treatable.
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Image Source: American Cancer Society