In past years, the rate of colorectal cancer (CRC) has become a serious public health problem in Mississippi. A study conducted in 2020 showed that Mississippi had one of the highest mortality rates from CRC as well as one of the CRC lowest screening rates between 2015 and 2019. The state also leads the nation in cardiovascular disease mortality rates as well as diabetes mortality. These are both known comorbidities for many types of cancers, including CRC.
One theory as to why the screening rates are so low in Mississippi is that about 55% of the state’s population resides in rural locations, which may make it hard for some individuals to access regular medical care. The rural population in Mississippi has a high rate of uninsured individuals making it hard for this population to afford regular screenings. In 2016, 14% of the population under 65 were uninsured.
Another theory as to why CRC rates are so prevalent in Mississippi is that the diet of many of the residents is high in red meat and low in fiber. This is in part due to a culture that relies on red meat and processed foods. This diet is also more prevalent in areas that have a low socioeconomic background, as it can be difficult to obtain healthy food if one lives in a food desert.
Fortunately, the Mississippi government recognized the issue and has developed a plan to help increase the screening rate of residents in Mississippi and decrease mortality rates —70X2020 was initiated in 2014. Since the start of the program, there has been an increase in individuals who got screened, specifically in minority communities. So far, screening rates have improved from 55% in 2014 to 69.9% in 2020. For white individuals there was a compliance rate of just under 70% and for black individuals there was a compliance rate of just above 70% in 2020.
From this case study, we are able to theorize that screening and diet play a crucial role in the development of CRC. We are also able to see that there is a strong correlation between screening rates and CRC mortality rates.