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Cancer death rates decreased in Idaho

A new cancer study was released by The JAMA Network that breaks down cancer deaths in all 50 states. Idaho’s cancer deaths are on the lower end of the spectrum compared to the rest of the nation.

“Idaho typically is. There are certain demographic factors that make Idaho less prone to cancer mortality. There’s a lot less smoking rates in Idaho, which is the largest factor that determines the cancer mortality,” said Ryan Bair, a radiation oncologist.

“In our state, we tend to be fairly good on that. We have fairly low smoking rates compared to the rest of the nation, which is one of the reasons why our cancer from lung cancer is low. Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death in America and it is quite low in our state due to the fact that we do not smoke,” said Mimi Taylor, the public information officer for Eastern Idaho Public Health.

From 1980 to 2014, the gem state’s cancer death rates have decreased by about 25 percent.

“Technology is a lot better in radiation — in chemotherapy. We manage side effects a lot better. We have much better detection with mammography, 3D mammography, with colonoscopy, with prostate cancer screenings. Everything is actually a lot better than it was in the 1980s,” Bair said.

Preventative measures such as screenings will diagnose you earlier, give you better treatment options and give you a better chance for survival.

“Unfortunately, we do have low screening rates in our state and we’re trying to really get out and educate people about cancer — to educate people to be proactive about their health and to take advantage of all these opportunities that are out there for them,” Taylor said.

As technology and research progress, we’re learning that many of these cancers can be preventable or at least detected early.

“Lung can be prevented through not smoking. Breast cancer can be at least diagnosed early through screening. And colon cancer can be diagnosed through screening and through a lot of research about proper diet,” Taylor said.

In trying to prevent cervical cancer, the gem state is holding its first statewide HPV Vaccination Day on Feb. 9.

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