Colon Cancer deaths down in the U.S. but not in Mississippi - WDAM-TV 7-News, Weather, Sports-Hattiesburg, MS

Colon Cancer deaths down in the U.S. but not in Mississippi

HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - A recent report by The Centers for Disease Control states colon cancer deaths in the United States are down, and it's because people are taking preventative measures more seriously.

Deaths rates are dropping in every state across the nation but one, Mississippi.

"Screening rates have increased from 53% nationwide in 2003 to 65% in 2007,"said Hattiesburg Clinic Gastroenterologist Dr. Greg Owens.

Which is helping cure those with early stage colon cancer, before it becomes deadly.

However, in Mississippi only 45% of the population is taking precautionary measures.

"Several factors play into that. It's shown that educational levels correlate with people adhering to screening guidelines and that's true with any of the health issues, and as we know, we have issues with our education levels in Mississippi."

Another factor is, African Americans have the highest incidence rate for colon cancer and they make up more than a third of the states population.

"African Americans tend to have right sided or upper colon cancers much more frequently than Caucasians do, and those cancers tend to present late with fewer symptoms," said Owens.

The most recent findings from The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows, that because screening rates are so low less than forty percent of colon cancer is found early. Making a curable disease a killer to many.

"It is one of the few cancers that has a pre-cancerous stage, that's identifiable early and those are colon polyps."

Polyps are generally present in the body 8 to 10 years before they are large enough to develop into cancer.

"90% of people with colon cancer that is identified with a proper screening is cured and those folk's are alive and well 5 years later. However, if you wait until symptoms develop before investigating and find the diagnoses, only 50% survive five years."

Generally Doctor's recommend colon cancer screenings at age 50, but those who have an immediate family member that has had polyps or cancer should be screened at 40 years old.

Copyright 2011 WDAM. All rights reserved.

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