October 22, 2019
Albany, NY

Governor Cuomo Announces New Actions to Address Higher Rates of Cancer in the East Buffalo/West Cheektowaga Regional Cancer Study Area

TOP Governor Cuomo Announces New Actions to Address...

$675,000 to Fund Local Cancer Prevention in Action Project


Workgroup to Develop Strategies to Reduce Tobacco Use 


State Department of Health Study Found Higher Burden of Tobacco Use a Likely Contributor to Elevated Cancer


Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced new actions to address higher rates of cancer in the East Buffalo/West Cheektowaga area. The plan has a primary focus on tobacco use, which a recent State Department of Health study found to be a likely contributor to certain elevated cancers for the area. The initiative includes a Community Cancer Prevention in Action grant of $225,000 annually for up to three years to Population Health Collaborative to support local cancer prevention interventions, for a total of $675,000. The Governor has also directed the Department of Health to create a workgroup, led by local stakeholders, to recommend strategies aimed at reducing tobacco use in the local study area and similar areas around the state.  

"New York has taken aggressive actions to combat smoking and tobacco use, but this dangerous habit still persists in our society and likely is a significant contributing factor related to cancer," Governor Cuomo said. "I am directing DOH to work with area experts to focus on increased efforts to help New Yorkers stop smoking and prevent them from forming this costly and potentially deadly addiction in the first place."

"With higher rates of cancer among residents in the area of East Buffalo and West Cheektowaga, we are taking serious action to address the issue," said Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul. "This grant funding will support cancer prevention efforts, and the State Department of Health will be convening a workgroup made up of local stakeholders to identify strategies to reduce tobacco use. We want to make sure all New Yorkers lead healthy and safe lives, and these actions will help to reduce contributors of cancer and enhance quality of life."

The Population Health Collaborative is a regional cooperative that works to improve the health of a diverse group of Western New Yorkers by aligning them with the appropriate resources and health care professionals. Community Cancer Prevention in Action is a State Department of Health program that supports local cancer prevention and risk reduction interventions in multiple communities throughout New York State.

The workgroup, which will be co-chaired by Roswell Park Cancer Institute's Dr. Martin Mahoney and Erie County Health Commissioner Dr. Gale Burstein, will make recommendations for policy changes and additional activities to address higher rates of tobacco use in the East Buffalo/West Cheektowaga study area, includingrecommendations that can be expanded to reduce smoking rates in areas across New York State. According to the study, 30% of population survey respondents reported being current smokers compared to about 16.7% in New York State excluding New York City.

Department researchers investigated this area of Erie County because of elevated numbers of colorectal, kidney, prostate, oral, esophageal and lung cancers. Higher burden of tobacco use in the East Buffalo/Western Cheektowaga Study Area, compared to other areas of the state, was a likely contributor to several of the elevated cancers in this area. Additionally, other risk behaviors, such as obesity, lack of physical activity and alcohol consumption, which were more common in the area, may also have contributed. More detailed information about this study is available here

New York State Health Commissioner Dr. HowardZucker said, "The data we've reviewed from this study is helping to inform initiatives, such as increased tobacco control efforts for East Buffalo and West Cheektowaga. Our partners at Roswell and the County Health Department are well-positioned in the community to help us achieve this targeted outreach." 

Senator Tim Kennedy said, "As these higher cancer rates on Buffalo's East Side and Cheektowaga persist, it is clear that stronger, comprehensive strategies are needed to address this crisis. Through the creation of this workgroup, paired with the dedication of funding for cancer prevention initiatives, New York State is actively working to identify solutions that prioritize the health of Western New Yorkers."

Assembly Majority Leader Crystal D. Peoples-Stokes said, "I applaud Governor Cuomo and State Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker for creating a workgroup, led locally by Roswell Park and Erie County's Dept. of Health, and providing financial resources to identify cancer prevention and smoking cessation opportunities within Buffalo's East side community. Everyone has a loved one that's been affected by smoking and/or cancer. We owe it to them and our future generations to successfully treat and prevent both from happening."

Assembly Member Monica Wallace said, "The recent study identifying the factors leading to higher cancer rates along the Cheektowaga-Buffalo border is revealing. As leaders, our communities look to us to not just identify issues, but to work to resolve them. I thank Governor Cuomo for conducting this study, and I appreciate that the he is taking the next step in devoting state resources to help address the issues that have led to higher cancer rates."

Erie County Executive Mark C. Poloncarz said, "My administration included $250,000 in the Erie County budget to fund a comprehensive cancer prevention program for these neighborhoods. Our local program began in July, and a team of researchers, physicians and community members are at work right now to develop and distribute resource guides and other materials for patients, community organizations and physicians. We're building our program with community input, which is being gathered thanks to the leadership of Erie County Health Commissioner Dr. Gale Burstein and the efforts of her staff. We appreciate this additional support from New York State to address tobacco use, which has been shown to be a primary cause of many of the cancers identified by the study."

Buffalo Mayor Byron W. Brown said, "Ensuring a good quality life has been a top focus of my Administration since Day 1. I thank Governor Cuomo for his continued partnership and efforts to put the health and well-being of the residents of the City of Buffalo, Western New York, and the entire State at the forefront of his policy agenda."

A meeting with New York State Department of Health officials to discuss findings and answer questions will be held in East Buffalo/Western Cheektowaga (Erie County) this evening, October 22, at 7pm:

Buffalo Museum of Science

1020 Humboldt Pkwy, Buffalo, NY 14211

In addition to the East Buffalo/West Cheektowaga study area, investigations of elevated cancer incidence were selected for further study in the Centereach, Farmingdale and Selden area of Suffolk County; Staten Island (Richmond County) and Warren County. The goals of the studies were to further understand factors contributing to higher rates of cancer in certain regions of the state and to better inform cancer prevention and screening efforts statewide and promote access to high-quality care. Examining potential trends in these regions aids the Department in determining which cancer prevention interventions to promote and which diagnostic and treatment services would be most beneficial when connecting patients with resources.

All cases of cancer diagnosed or treated in New York are reported by law by their health care provider to the New York State Cancer Registry. New York's Cancer Registry was established in 1940 as one of the first cancer registries in the country and has since earned many accolades, including being designated by the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) as a Registry of Excellence and receiving Gold Certification by the North American Association of Central Cancer Registries for its completeness and accuracy. The regional cancer studies were based on data reported to the Cancer Registry and augmented with data from other sources.

Demographics and socioeconomic status of an area, behavioral and lifestyle factors such as smoking, and the occupational and industrial history of each area were considered. DOH also consulted with the Department of Environmental Conservation to evaluate sources of data on environmental factors and did not identify any unusual environmental exposures in any of the areas of study. More information is available here.

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Contact the Governor's Press Office