First-ever prostate cancer report cards released

Five states fail, Connecticut heads the class

WASHINGTON, D.C.—Five states failed the first-ever prostate cancer state-by-state report card issued by the National Prostate Cancer Coalition (NPCC).

“Many states are not doing even the simplest things when it comes to fighting prostate cancer,” NPCC CEO Richard N. Atkins, M.D., said. “Early detection saves lives, and far too many states don’t encourage men to know the risks and to get tested.”

Illinois received a “C” for its efforts.

The report cards are a result of a study by NPCC where each state is graded based on current prostate cancer screening rates, mortality rates and whether each state currently has laws in place guaranteeing insurance coverage for testing. Screening and mortality rates are calculated from raw data made available by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

Alabama, Arkansas, Idaho, Mississippi and Wisconsin didn’t make the grade while California, Connecticut (earning a perfect score of 100), Kansas and New York earned an A.

Each state that failed does not have laws in place forcing insurance companies to cover prostate exams. Only 28 states have insurance mandates compared with 49 states that require insurance agencies to cover breast cancer screenings—a disease with a nearly identical caseload. Utah, which was given a “D-”, is the only state not to offer insurance for both prostate and breast cancer screenings.

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

Connecticut is the only state to rank in the top 10 in highest screening rates and lowest death rates while the other three states earned Bs in other categories. Three other states, Delaware, New Jersey and Rhode Island, received grades of an “A-”.

Florida would have received a perfect score if it weren’t for the absence of a screening mandate.

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

Atkins added that Michigan would have gotten an ‘A’ while Iowa, Massachusetts, Montana and Nebraska would have received “Bs”.

From the May 24-30, 2006, issue

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