Cancer Rates Lower in New York Than Upstate

First Posted: Jul 24, 2012 04:47 AM EDT

The American Cancer Society released an analysis in which they depicted higher lung cancer rates in Upstate (located north of core New York metropolitan area) versus New York City. The Cancer Burden in New York State suggests that the huge difference exists due to the prevalence of excessive smoking among the residents. A top recommendation includes increased funding for the state's anti-tobacco program.

The study was based on the State Cancer Registry data from 2004 to 2008 showed that prostrate, colorectal, breast and lung cancers are the prime factors for about half the cases and death. They noticed that lung cancer made a largest disparity between Upstate and New York City.

"Our analysis shows a tale of two states,'' said Blair Horner, Vice President for Advocacy, American Cancer Society of NY & NJ.  "Upstaters face higher cancer rates than Downstaters, which is largely attributable to a significant difference in lung cancer prevalence. We hope that this report will jump start a statewide discussion on how to reduce cancer incidence, identify cancers earlier, and to assist those in treatment."

"Tobacco use is the single most important factor associated with cancer mortality, and is identified by the U.S. Surgeon General as a cause of 16 different types of cancer." said Russ Sciandra, NYS Advocacy Director, American Cancer Society of NY & NJ. "Smoking accounts for at least 30 percent of cancer deaths, and both smoking rates and overall cancer rates are higher Upstate than in New York City and surrounding counties. We can attribute the lower rates to especially vigilant efforts by New York City and the adjoining suburban counties to reduce tobacco use among their residents." 

On comparing the data, they noticed the data showed a 13 percent smoking rate among city residents compared to 17 percent Upstate.

According to the society estimates for the year 2011, New Yorkers were diagnosed with cancer while 34,000 died by being a victim to this chronic disease. Nearly 8,850 or one fourth lost their lives due to lung cancer.

 Downstate, 65.8 men per 100,000 and 41 women per 100,000 have lung or bronchial cancer, compared with 84.3 men and 64.2 women outside New York City, according to health department data from 2004 to 2008. Nationally, the rates are 75.2 men and 52.3 women.

"You would see the same kind of pattern upstate. You know, rural poor people," Sciandra said. "The relationship between income and education, especially income level and smoking, is very strong."

After producing such an alarming data, the society feels the urge for the state to encourage more tobacco prevention program.

"Personal behaviors are much more likely to increase your risk of cancer than environmental factors are," Sciandra said at the news conference. "You're doing it all the time - every day. You're smoking a cigarette 20 times a day for 50 years. Tobacco just basically swamps everything else."

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