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Cancer Rates Higher in Downstate Illinois

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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.

Harvest Public Media’s reporter in Springfield, Ill., comes to Harvest with a background of covering state government and rural issues. For the past eight years, Bill was general manager of public radio station WUIS in Springfield. Prior to that, he spent a decade as State Capitol bureau chief for Illinois Public Radio. During his time in the Illinois statehouse Bill won several awards including Best Investigative Reporter from the Associated Press and Best Statehouse Beat Reporting from the Association of Capitol Reporters and Editors in 2004. Bill also spent eight years as News Director at WIUM public radio in Macomb, Ill., and is a past president of the Illinois News Broadcasters Association.