WIUM Tristates Public Radio

Cancer Rates Higher in Downstate Illinois

Dec 2, 2013

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

A report from the Southern Illinois University School of Medicine and the Illinois Department of Public Health found the southern two-thirds of Illinois have higher cancer rates and lower survival rates than those in the northern part. 

The study looked at two decades worth of cancer statistics. 

Dr. David Steward, Associate Dean of Community Health and Service at the SIU School of Medicine, said the likely culprit is lung cancer, which is especially higher in men.

“The rate is substantially higher. More than 20% higher than the rate in men in upstate Illinois, and 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. 

He said much of that could be attributed to higher smoking rates.