Cancer Death Rates Down Nationwide, But Spike in Poorer Areas

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Erin Andrews at the 2011 Rose Bowl game in Pasedena CA. Credit
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26 January, 2017

People should not still be dying from this - not at these rates. Most previous reports on geographic differences in cancer mortality in the US have focused on variation by state, with less information available at the county level. "Specific efforts are urgently needed to address these disparities".

"It makes you wonder: How could this happen in a country like ours, when we spend more money on health than any other country in the world?" This news comes just as the GoP has begun dismantling the Affordable Care Act, Donald Trump has reinstated the Global Gag Rule (which gives us a good indication about where he's at on protecting access to reproductive health), and as the Republican Party continues their fight to defund Planned Parenthood. They show that, even in the most recent data from 2014, large inequalities persisted.

In all, 160 counties showed increases in cancer death rates between 1980 and 2014, noted Murray, director of the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington in Seattle. The study found that 19 million Americans died from cancer during that time. By comparison, the death rate from lung cancer in Miami-Dade was about 34 of every 100,000 people. Union County was followed by four counties in Kentucky. "Parts of South King County tend to smoke more, have more obesity and mortality is higher", Mokdad said.

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The researchers found that more than 7 in 10 cervical cancer samples carried faults in one or both of two important sets of genes that control how and when cells grow and divide. But from 1980 to 2014, they increased by 28% to 74% in a cluster of counties in West Virginia, eastern Kentucky and southern OH, and by similar margins in a belt of counties stretching from Alabama through SC.

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Breast cancer deaths have declined overall, but a cluster of counties along the Mississippi River had significantly higher mortality than average, particularly in Mississippi and Louisiana.

The study also casts new light on a nationwide rise in deadly liver cancers; a worrying increase in fatal kidney cancers in Texas, Oklahoma and Louisiana; and a mysterious spate of testicular cancer deaths among men in California's San Bernardino, Imperial and Stanislaus counties. Counties in Colorado, Texas and OH had the fewest prostate cancer deaths.

Washingtonians in certain parts of the state are dying from cancer at higher rates than those in neighboring counties, according to a first-of-its kind analysis.

In counties scattered across the Northeast states, steep declines in smoking rates during that 35-year stretch drove down relatively high death rates from cancers of the respiratory system. Studies indicate that vaccination in males will be effective against cancers related to HPV in males, as it is in females. "An educated person is more likely to understand the danger, and the need for proper care", he says. Safe sex is also highly recommended considering the fact that consistent use of condom has been linked to lower chances of spreading HPV infection. They hope their findings will provide insight for the creation of new health policies, which are often implemented at the county level.


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