5 States Get Failing Grades on Prostate Cancer 'Report Card'

Many not doing even the simplest things to encourage men to get tested, coalition says

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FRIDAY, May 19, 2006 (HealthDay News) -- Five U.S. states -- Alabama, Arkansas, Idaho, Mississippi and Wisconsin -- failed the first-ever prostate cancer report cards issued by the National Prostate Cancer Coalition (NPCC). California, Connecticut, Kansas and New York received the best grades.

On the report cards, the states are rated based on current prostate cancer screening rates, death rates, and whether they have laws guaranteeing insurance coverage for prostate cancer testing.

"Many states are not doing even the simplest things when it comes to fighting prostate cancer. Early detection saves lives, and far too many states don't encourage men to know the risks and to get tested," Dr. Richard Atkins, CEO of the prostate cancer coalition, said in a prepared statement.

Currently, 28 states have laws that force insurance companies to pay for prostate exams, compared to 49 states that require coverage for breast cancer screening.

Two of the states with failing grades -- Mississippi and Alabama -- rank second and fourth, respectively, in terms of having the highest prostate cancer death rates. Two other failing states -- Idaho and Wisconsin -- rank fifth and ninth, respectively, in the lowest screening rates.

Connecticut, which had a perfect score, was the only state to rank in the top 10 in highest screening rates and lowest death rates.

"There are several states that could've scored A's, if only they had screening mandates," Atkins noted. "Screening rates are already starting to improve among the states that have recently adopted screening mandates, like Oregon and Washington."

More information

The U.S. National Cancer Institute has more about prostate cancer screening.

SOURCE: National Prostate Cancer Coalition, news release, May 22, 2006


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