- Associated Press - Monday, May 23, 2016

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP) - South Dakota’s breast cancer rates are surging beyond national averages, and health officials still aren’t sure what’s causing the increase.

After two years of steady increases, the state had the highest incident rate in the nation in 2012, with 141.4 new cases reported per 100,000 women, the Argus Leader (http://argusne.ws/1NGJst0 ) reported. The national average was 122.2 new cases reported per 100,000 women.

Recently released numbers for 2013 show another increase in South Dakota.

In 2016, hundreds of women in South Dakota will be diagnosed with breast cancer, according to the American Cancer Society. The disease is expected to be the state’s most commonly diagnosed type of cancer in the state, with 680 new cases, outpacing lung, prostate and colon cancer diagnoses.

Health Department Cancer Programs Director Karen Cudmore said officials haven’t been able to pinpoint the cause.

But the good news is that breast cancer’s growing presence in South Dakota hasn’t led to increased deaths and that the state’s mortality rates remain slightly under the national average.

Ashley Miller, chronic disease epidemiologist for the state Department of Health, said the state’s health care system is making a difference when it comes to the risks faced by women.

“Our mortality rate is fairly low,” she said. “It does appear that we are doing a very good job of finding cancer.”

Dr. Juliann Reiland, breast surgeon for Avera Medical Group Comprehensive Breast Care, agrees that the state’s health care providers deserve credit for the difference between more breast cancer cases and fewer deaths.

“The women in South Dakota are very aware of breast cancer risks,” Reiland said. “They are very intuitive and they want to get their mammogram, and they’re very good about getting their follow-ups.”

Low-income women have access to free screenings through the Department of Health.

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Information from: Argus Leader, http://www.argusleader.com

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