Areas of United States found to have excessive colorectal cancer mortality

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"Hot spots" of high colorectal cancer mortality remain.
"Hot spots" of high colorectal cancer mortality remain.

(HealthDay News) -- People living in 94 counties spread across the lower Mississippi Delta region, in 107 counties in west-central Appalachia, and in 37 counties in eastern Virginia/North Carolina have seen little change in lives lost to colorectal cancer, according to a study published online July 8 in Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention.

Rebecca Siegel, M.P.H., director of surveillance information at the American Cancer Society, and colleagues used geospatial mapping software to separate out regions in the United States that had very high rates of colorectal cancer mortality from 1970 through 2011.

The researchers found that between 2009 and 2011, colorectal cancer mortality rates in the lower Mississippi Delta were still 40 percent higher than in non-"hot spot" regions, while rates were 18 percent higher in west central Appalachia and 9 percent higher in eastern Virginia/North Carolina. Certain demographics appeared to play a role, as well. Between 1970 and 1990, the colorectal cancer mortality rate rose by 3.5 percent a year among black men in the lower Mississippi Delta and has since remained unchanged, the researchers noted.

"Although we've made great strides against colorectal cancer in a fairly short time period, there are a lot of vulnerable populations that aren't benefiting," Siegel said in a journal news release. "Targeted interventions, like using people within the community to talk to their neighbors about screening, are likely to be effective. We know interventions work because we have an example in Delaware, where they implemented statewide colorectal cancer screening and effectively eliminated disparities in less than a decade."

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