Preventing Cancer in the South

Here's one reason why it's good that TennCare is at least continuing to cover women with cervical cancer. Most of the 4,000 almost entirely preventable deaths from this condition in the U.S. each year occur in the South. From the AP (via the Houston Chronicle):

Virtually all deaths from cervical cancer are preventable, yet the disease will kill almost 4,000 women in this country this year. Frustrated scientists know who most of them will be: black women in the South, Hispanics along the Texas-Mexico border, white women in Appalachia and the rural Northeast, Vietnamese immigrants.

Efforts are under way to reach those women, including a $25 million federal program poised to let communities recruit volunteers - average women who speak their patients' language and can engender trust - to push Pap testing and shepherd the newly diagnosed through an often-baffling medical system.

It's work made more urgent by the discovery that excess cervical cancer is a red flag for other health disparities: The same localities also have too-high rates of breast and colorectal cancer, strokes and infant mortality.