How is Missoula Fighting Back Against Terminal Cancer?


Missoula is a county in Montana that has made big strides against cancer in recent years. The numbers reveal a fascinating story.

Today, we’re going to take a look at how Missoula is addressing terminal cancer and what the people of Missoula can do to ensure that they can survive the disease.

How is Missoula Doing on Cancer?

We took a look at the stats from 1980 until 2014, which are the latest figures provided for the county. For breast cancer, for example, the mortality rate in females has dropped by 23.7%.

In the same paper, we can see that the mortality rate for a combination of tracheal, bronchus, and lung cancer has fallen by 35.6% in males over the same period. The unfortunate statistic, however, is that in females it has actually increased by 21.7%.

So there’s some distance still left to cover. You can take a further look at the figures through the interactive map at

Is it the Environment?

Environmental concerns are often placed at the top of the list, next to behavioral concerns. There are issues with the environment in Missoula and the wider Montana area.

For example, Montana’s mesothelioma incidence rate falls between 1.01 and 1.24 per 100,000 people, which puts it in the middle to high range, relative to the entire country.

Paul Kraus, known as the world’s longest mesothelioma survivor, states that this is largely linked to the prevalence of industry. He says this is why states like Washington and Oregon have higher than average mesothelioma rates.

Luckily, the entire country is shifting away from ‘dirty’ industries and pollution is heavily controlled these days.

To find out more about the impact of mesothelioma, click this link:

Making a Stand Against Destructive Behaviors

The priority for so many states when it comes to destructive behaviors is smoking. Montana’s smoking rate is 22.1%, which puts it well above the national average.

Missoula has made progress, as we have seen with the drop in lung cancer over the previous couple of decades. But educational campaigns against smoking and other destructive behaviors continue.

Behavioral and environmental factors are the two pillars which Missoula must continue to chip away at.

How Can Cancer Be Beaten?

The answer is in early diagnosis. Studies have proven thousands of times that early diagnosis is the key to improving life expectancy. Cancer is more likely to be lethal when it spreads beyond the initial site to other organs.

Paul says that his relatively early diagnosis of mesothelioma was critical to his eventual survival and his continued high quality of life.

Another factor for Missoula residents is access to healthcare. Montana recognizes that 22% of its state population under 65 doesn’t have health insurance.

This indicates that early diagnosis is difficult and that those who have cancer may not be getting the critical treatment they need.

Last Word – How is Missoula Doing?

Cancer in Missoula is the leading cause of death and great progress has been made over the past 30 years. The problem is that further progress requires even bigger moves from the government.

However, Missoula is a healthy place to be and your chances of survival (or not getting cancer at all) are good if you live here.

Are you currently battling cancer in Missoula?