Regional lung cancer death rates follow smoking trends
Results from updated maps of lung cancer death rates in the United States from 1950 to 1994 show dramatic regional variation over time, with patterns following regional trends in smoking, report government researchers in the Journal of the National Cancer
"The changing patterns of smoking prevalence and subsequent lung cancer rates should help identify target populations where anti-tobacco research and control programs are especially needed to reduce the enormous toll of this preventable disease,'' write Dr. Susan S. Devesa from the National Cancer Institute, Bethesda, Maryland, and colleagues. The research team observed that pronounced geographic variations in lung cancer mortality rates occurred across most of the time intervals surveyed. For example, from 1950 to 1959, mortality rates for white men were higher in the northeast urban areas as well as along the south Atlantic and Gulf coasts than in other parts of the country. But by the 1970s, many of the highest death rates from lung cancer among white males were being seen in the southeast areas of the country, and by the 1990s, "virtually all'' of the highest mortality rates were occurring in the same region. In contrast, mortality rates from lung cancer in both the North Central and Mountain areas have remained relatively low compared with the rest of the country. For the northeast and the far west, mortality rates have been approximately equal to those for the country as a whole.