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Downstate Cancer Rates Higher

A new study shows cancer rates are higher in downstate Illinois.  Smoking may be the reason.   

A report from the Southern Illinois University School of Medicine and the Illinois Department of  Public Health of public health says the southern two thirds of Illinois have higher cancer rates and lower survival rates than those in the northern part.  The study looks at two decades worth of cancer statistics.  SIU Med School's David Steward says the likely culprit is lung cancer, which is especially higher in Men.

"The rate is substantially higher. More than 20 percent higher than the rate in men in upstate Illinois & we are especially concerned in addition about African American men in downstate Illinois who have an even higher cancer rate than their peers.. in Northern Illinois," Steward said.

With lung cancer comes higher mortality rates.

"Once it has spread it is difficult to treat and doesn't get cured very much", he said.

Steward noted the 12 to 16 counties in deep southern Illinois and Christian, Montgomery and Macon Counties in the central part of the state seem to have higher lung cancer rates.  Much of that could be attributed to higher smoking rates.


Bill is a former general manager, economy reporter, Harvest correspondent and Statehouse Bureau Chief for NPR Illinois. He has won several awards including the Associated Press Best Investigative Reporter.
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