By Michaela Gibson Morris/NEMS Daily Journal
It’s another unwanted health distinction: Mississippi is the only state in the nation not to show a drop in deaths from colon cancer in a recent report.
Physicians say the only way to change that is for more Mississippians to get screening.
The Centers for Disease Control analysis of state mortality data announced last week found every state in the nation except Mississippi has seen a decrease in deaths in colon cancer over the past decade. Those gains were largely attributed to increased colon cancer screening, particularly colonoscopies.
In 40 states, the increase in screening colonoscopy has reduced the incidence rate of colon cancer, not just the death rate.
In Mississippi, the rates have remained stable – averaging around 20 deaths per 100,000 people from colon cancer over the past decade. The national average went from 19.0 to 16.7 per 100,000.
Mississippi’s screening rate of 58 percent among people ages 50 to 75 is one of the lowest in the nation.
“We really need more patient awareness of how important it is to have a colonoscopy,” said Dr. David Bridgers, an Oxford gastroenterologist. “We try to get the message out. We know how easy it is to prevent it.”