Background: Previous studies have shown high cervical carcinoma mortality and increasing breast carcinoma mortality in the Appalachian region of the U.S. (which includes parts of 12 states and all of West Virginia). In the current study the authors report trends in breast and cervical carcinoma death rates among women in Appalachia for 1976-1996.
Methods: Death rates were calculated from information provided on death certificates and reported to the National Center for Health Statistics for Appalachian women and for women living elsewhere in the U.S. ("other U.S. women"). Trends were examined with joinpoint regression techniques overall and by age and race. Average annual mortality rates were calculated by state for 1992-1996 for each state's Appalachian and non-Appalachian areas.
Results: Overall breast carcinoma mortality was lower among Appalachian women than among other U.S. women throughout the study period; however, after rates decreased among both groups in the 1990s, the difference appears to have narrowed. No such decline was observed for women age >/= 70 years. Overall cervical carcinoma mortality was higher among Appalachian women than among other U.S. women but decreased during the study period to rates closer to those for other U.S. women. No significant decrease was observed among women age < 50 years. Overall, for both black and white women, breast carcinoma mortality was lower and cervical carcinoma mortality higher among women in Appalachia compared with their counterparts elsewhere in the U.S. For both breast and cervical carcinoma, the average annual death rates (1992-1996) varied by geographic areas within the Appalachian states, but most differences were not significant.
Conclusions: Analysis of mortality trends in breast and cervical carcinoma may provide guidance for prevention and control activities to reduce premature mortality from these diseases.