Cancer is Now 2nd Leading Cause of Death in New York and Across the United States
DOH to Conduct Four Regional Analyses in Areas of New York with Higher Incidence of Cancer
New Studies Will Examine Patterns, Trends and Potential Causes Contributing to Cancer Incidence
Initiative Builds on Actions to Connect New Yorkers with Diagnostic Services and Treatment
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced a new initiative to examine cancer trends and the potential causes of cancer in four regions across the state, including Warren County, that have a higher incidence of certain cancers. At the Governor's direction, the Department of Health will review cancer data, potential demographic and occupational factors, and will consult with the Department of Environmental Conservation on environmental factors contributing to patterns of cancer incidences in the western part of the state, in two regions downstate, and in the Warren County area in the eastern part of the state.
In New York, cancer is now the second leading cause of death behind heart disease. Each year, nearly 110,000 New Yorkers learn they have cancer, and around 35,000 die from the disease. This new data-driven effort will help identify the central causes leading to higher rates of cancer in certain regions and ultimately help develop the most effective programs to prevent and treat cancer. The state is budgeting up to $500,000 to conduct the four regional studies, and findings are expected within one year.
"A cancer diagnosis is the last thing anyone wants to hear from their doctor, and in order for New York to continue providing the very best care to help stomp out this deadly disease, we need to invest in necessary research and development to improve the way provide care," Governor Cuomo said. "The ongoing battle against cancer is a global challenge that will only be addressed by bringing top-notch medical experts and institutions together to find a solution. This investment and statewide study will open doors to new developments and shine light on what New Yorkers can do to improve the health and well-being of themselves and their families, as we continue to work toward a stronger, healthier New York for all."
As part of the review, the Department of Health will look within and around counties that have higher rates of cancer and work to detect patterns related to demographic, socioeconomic, behavioral, or occupational factors. In addition, the Department of Environmental Conservation will inventory potential environmental threats in those communities. The agencies will collaborate on further evaluation, mapping, and data mining. DOH will use the results of this initiative to enhance community screening and prevention efforts and support access to appropriate high-quality health care services in communities across the state identified as having high rates of cancer.
While the number of cancer diagnoses per year in New York have been rising, deaths due to the most common types of cancer, including lung, prostate, female breast and colorectal cancers, have been steadily decreasing. Increased access to cancer screenings leading to early detection and treatment means more diagnoses and fewer deaths. For additional data and information on cancer in New York State, visit: www.health.ny.gov/statistics/cancer/registry/pdf/snapshot.pdf.
New York State Department of Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker said, "More than one million New Yorkers are living with a current or former cancer diagnosis and millions more have lost a loved one to this devastating disease. These are sobering facts and exactly why Governor Cuomo is pursuing expansive actions to prevent, detect, and successfully treat cancer. These actions will help communities across New York better understand cancer and connect residents with critical services that save lives."
New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Basil Seggos said, "Protecting the health of New Yorkers is a top priority for the state, and through Governor Cuomo's leadership, we are making strong investments in improving water and air quality and addressing sources of pollution in the state. By closely examining the environmental factors contributing to a higher incidence of cancer in specific regions across the state, we can better inform prevention efforts across New York. I applaud the Governor for his leadership on this critical issue and look forward to working with DOH and all stakeholders as we work quickly on this initiative."
The New York State Cancer Registry is one of the most comprehensive in the United States and maintains over 50 years of data. The registry is Gold Certified by the North American Association of Central Cancer Registries for its completeness and accuracy. The Registry collects reports on cancer diagnoses from health care providers which include the anatomical sites of tumors, the stages at diagnosis, the cell types of the cancer, as well as the treatment information and demographic information of those diagnosed with cancer.
Using New York's cancer registry, DOH identified the counties with the highest cancer rates in New York State and New York City, and will begin this new initiative by focusing on four regions of the state.
DOH regularly conducts cancer incidence investigations to determine the difference between the actual number of cancer cases and the number of cases that would be statistically expected in any area. When the actual number of cases is higher than the expected cases number, after assuming necessary factors, the type of further investigation supported by this initiative is warranted.
All New York communities have been impacted by cancer and the state has worked to ensure access to early intervention, cancer screening, and treatment programs. As part of this new initiative, DOH will work with the identified communities to connect them with these critical services. The state funds a multitude of programs aimed at preventing, identifying and treating cancer. Through the New York Cancer Services Program, the state funds breast, cervical and colorectal cancer screenings and diagnostic services to uninsured and underinsured New Yorkers, which served over 25,000 New Yorkers in the 2016 fiscal year.
DOH also supports communities through a number of public health programs focused on cancer risk factors, such as obesity and lack of physical activity. The comprehensive Tobacco Control Program is part of the agency's mission to eliminate the number one preventable cause of death and disease in New York, which is associated with 30 percent of cancer mortality and 85 percent of all lung cancer deaths. This program educates communities through targeted media campaigns, works with health systems to increase the use of tobacco cessation treatments, and helps municipalities find solutions aimed at creating a tobacco free norm. As a result of these efforts, New York State youth smoking rates are down to a record low 4.3 percent, the lowest rate in the nation.
"Cancer is a scourge in our communities that has taken the lives of too many New Yorkers, including our friends and loved ones," said Senator Betty Little. "Governor Cuomo's visit here today in Glens Falls is clearly indicative of his understanding that the safety and health of our communities is the top priority. I will do all I can to work with the governor to complement his efforts and those of his administration in the battle against cancer."
Ron Conover, Chairman, Warren County Board of Supervisors said, "Cancer is a devastating diagnosis that shakes individuals and their families to their core. Connecting these people to adequate screenings and treatment is critical to ensuring their greatest chance of beating this disease and today, Governor Cuomo does just that. With this announcement, the Governor makes it clear to these families that they do not stand alone - New York is with them."
"Receiving a cancer diagnosis can be devastating for a patient and their families," said Julie Hart, New York government relations director for the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network. "We applaud the Governor for this important initiative and look forward to working with him to bring additional attention to the problems of high cancer incidence rates and the importance of cancer screenings."