Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Cancer death rates on the rise in parts of the South and Appalachia, despite overall decline, study finds

In poor counties with high rates of obesity and smoking cancer death rates rose by about 50 percent from 1980-2014, says a study by researchers at the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington published in the Journal of the American Medical Associaiton. While cancer mortality rates declined 20.1 percent during the study period, death rates remain high in some rural areas, including large clusters of the South, especially in Eastern Kentucky and southwestern West Virginia, areas hit hard by the loss of coal jobs. (UW map: Mortality rate for cancer and other neoplasms in 2014; click on map for larger image)
Researchers used data from the National Center for Health Statistics and, the Census Bureau and the Human Mortality Database from 1980 to 2014 for 29 cancers. During that time there were 19.5 million cancer deaths in the U.S. In 1980 the cancer mortality rate was 240.2 per 100,000, but declined to 192 per 100,000 in 2014.

Change in mortality rates for neoplasms, 1980-2014
"In counties with the highest 2014 cancer death rates, six of the top 10 were in Eastern Kentucky," Lindsey Tanner reports for The Associated Press. "Six of the 10 lowest rates were in the Colorado Rockies. For lung cancer deaths, four of the five counties with the highest 2014 rates were in Eastern Kentucky, with rates up to 80 percent higher than in 1980."

"Three of the five counties with the lowest 2014 rates were in the Colorado Rockies, where rates dropped by up to 60 percent," Tanner writes. "Death rates for breast and colorectal cancers increased in Madison County, Mississippi and in 2014 were at least five times higher there than in Summit County, Colorado, where the rates fell."

Researchers found that "for many cancers, there were distinct clusters of counties with especially high mortality. Clusters of breast cancer were present in the southern belt and along the Mississippi River, while liver cancer was high along the Texas-Mexico border, and clusters of kidney cancer were observed in North and South Dakota and counties in West Virginia, Ohio, Indiana, Louisiana, Oklahoma, Texas, Alaska and Illinois."

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