Cancer remains a significant public health concern in the United States, impacting millions of individuals annually. According to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), it ranks as the second leading cause of mortality, following closely behind heart disease.
However, the prevalence of cancer varies markedly across states and regions, influenced by diverse factors, including lifestyle, environment, genetic predisposition, and access to healthcare.
South Dakota’s Cancer Burden
South Dakota stands out as one of the states grappling with high cancer rates, ranking 11th nationwide for new cancer diagnoses and 9th for cancer-related deaths. Predictions by the American Cancer Society indicate that approximately 5,340 new cancer cases and 1,760 cancer-related fatalities are expected in South Dakota during 2023.
Among the most commonly diagnosed cancer types in the state are breast, prostate, lung and bronchus, colon and rectum, and melanoma of the skin. Notably, the leading causes of cancer-related deaths in South Dakota include lung and bronchus, breast, prostate, colon and rectum, and pancreas.
Sioux Falls: The City with the Highest Cancer Rates in South Dakota
Within South Dakota, Sioux Falls has earned the dubious distinction of having the highest cancer rates. Data from the South Dakota Cancer Registry reveals an age-adjusted cancer incidence rate of 513.7 per 100,000 population for Sioux Falls, spanning the period from 2015 to 2019. In practical terms, this rate implies that around 514 individuals per 100,000 residents in Sioux Falls received cancer diagnoses during that timeframe, surpassing both the state average of 452.4 per 100,000 and the national average of 442.3 per 100,000.
Commonly identified cancer types in Sioux Falls mirror those prevalent in South Dakota as a whole, including breast, prostate, lung and bronchus, colon and rectum, and bladder. The primary contributors to cancer-related mortality in Sioux Falls are lung and bronchus, breast, prostate, colon and rectum, and pancreas.
What Factors Contribute to Sioux Falls’ High Cancer Rates?
Several factors underpin the heightened cancer rates observed in Sioux Falls. These factors encompass individual behaviors and choices, such as smoking, obesity, alcohol consumption, sedentary lifestyles, sun exposure, and dietary habits, collectively accounting for around 40% of all cancer cases in the United States according to the CDC.
Environmental exposures and conditions also play a role, including air quality, water quality, radon levels, pesticide usage, and occupational hazards, contributing to approximately 19% of global cancer cases as per the World Health Organization (WHO).
Moreover, genetic predisposition and family history can increase cancer risk, with an estimated 5% to 10% of all U.S. cancer cases attributed to these factors. Inherited gene mutations, such as BRCA1 or BRCA2, can elevate the likelihood of developing specific cancers, like breast or ovarian cancer.
How Can Sioux Falls Reduce Its Cancer Burden?
Efforts to reduce cancer rates in Sioux Falls can encompass both individual and community-level actions. On an individual level, risk reduction involves:
- Quitting smoking or avoiding exposure to secondhand smoke.
- Maintaining a healthy weight and preventing obesity.
- Moderating alcohol intake and avoiding binge drinking.
- Embracing physical activity and reducing sedentary habits.
- Protecting against excessive sun exposure and utilizing sunscreen.
- Adhering to a balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats.
- Pursuing regular screenings and check-ups for early cancer detection.
- Following recommended vaccination schedules to prevent infections linked to cancer.
- Seeking prompt medical attention upon noticing cancer symptoms.
Community-level strategies to reduce cancer rates encompass:
- Enhancing air quality and curbing emissions from various sources.
- Ensuring clean drinking water and sanitation systems.
- Conducting radon level testing in homes and implementing mitigation if necessary.
- Regulating pesticide usage and disposal.
- Enforcing occupational safety standards and providing protective equipment for workers.
- Promoting cancer prevention and treatment awareness and education.
- Improving access and affordability of healthcare services for all residents.
- Supporting research and innovation for cancer prevention, diagnosis, treatment, and cure.
While cancer poses a significant challenge in Sioux Falls and South Dakota, it is not insurmountable. Understanding the factors influencing cancer risk and taking proactive steps to mitigate them can lead to a reduction in cancer rates and improved health outcomes. By fostering a sense of community and encouraging individual responsibility, Sioux Falls can not only shed its reputation for high cancer rates but also strive for high cancer survival rates and an improved quality of life.