Recent media reports highlight how a lack of state policy on cigarette taxes can drive a state to have high cancer rates. Missouri is a fine US example which now has the lowest tax on cigarettes in the nation (17 cents per pack).
State level policy impacting cancer is not limited to just cigarettes and increased burden from smoking-related cancers, however. With reductions in resources available to the state, Missouri cut back funding for the Breast and Cervical Cancer Screening Program (in Missouri called Show Me Healthy Women). This added t to the existing language in qualifying for treatment after diagnosis among women without health insurance leads poor rural areas to have low breast cancer incidence (lack of screening) and high mortality. This morality is driven by late stage at diagnosis and limited access to current standard quality of care for breast cancer. Maps at the county level show rural Missouri dominates the state with high cancer mortality.
If we are to overcome disparities in access to detection and care for cancer patients, then state policies must foster access for all. Access has to be not only for detection methods (breast, cervix, and colon cancer screening) but also to effective programs to aid cessation from smoking. Programs must also seamlessly link those diagnosed with cancer to effective care.