State must improve colon cancer rates

Published 12:04 am Sunday, July 10, 2011

A colon cancer report last week found that every state in America except one has seen a decrease in deaths from the terrible disease.

Mississippi did not see a decrease, but levels held steady. With other states decreasing their numbers, Mississippi finds itself last again.

It’s simply prevention. Colon cancer, doctors say, is one of the most treatable forms of cancer if found early. Health officials recommend that anyone over the age of 50 get screened for colon cancer. If colon cancer is a family trait, screenings should begin even earlier.

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The Atlanta-based Centers for Disease Control reported that deaths per 1,000 people fell from 19 to 17 from 2003 to 2007. Kentucky and West Virginia, the CDC reported, had the highest rates in 2003, but both of those state’s numbers dropped to fewer than 20 per 1,000. Mississippi’s rate is 20 deaths per 1,000 people, the CDC reported.

Screenings for colon cancer are imperative. The CDC reported only 58 percent of Mississippians are tested annually for colon cancer — one of the lowest rates in the nation. It’s a shame more people are not getting this test, which could diagnose a very treatable illness.

Mississippi is last in many things, but that does not have to be the case. Get tested early and often for colon cancer.