Smoking eyed in higher upstate NY lung cancer rate
Posted at: 07/23/2012 5:43 PM
By: Associated Press | WHEC.com
An American Cancer Society analysis released Monday showed higher lung cancer rates in upstate New York than in New York City, a trend society officials attributed to higher smoking rates in poorer areas.
The report, based on State Cancer Registry data from 2004 to 2008, said prostate, colorectal, breast and lung cancers account for about half the state's cases and deaths. There was a major geographic difference only in lung cancer.
Officials said that correlates with other state data showing a 13 percent smoking rate among city residents compared with 17 percent upstate.
"Lung cancer and the other smoking-related cancers - cancer of the mouth, cancer of the esophagus - also have generally worse prognoses," said Russell Sciandra, the society's lobbyist in Albany. "Smoking is the biggest single cause of cancer and cancer mortality in New York state."
In 2011, the society estimates 107,000 New Yorkers were diagnosed with cancer, while 34,000 died from the disease. Lung cancer killed 8,580 or one-fourth, by far the deadliest form.
The National Cancer Institute says an estimated 1.6 million Americans will be diagnosed and 577,000 will die this year. That includes 226,000 new lung cancer cases and 160,000 deaths.
The greater New York City metropolitan area, including the Hudson Valley and Long Island, has a much lower smoking rate than the state average, which Sciandra attributed to tougher anti-smoking policies in the city, including its earlier adoption of smoking restrictions and a $1.50 higher cigarette tax, as well as demographics. Even within New York City, poorer areas have high rates of smoking and cancer, he said.
"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, very strong."
According to the society, the state should increase funding for tobacco-prevention programs, funding that has been slashed the past few years, while ensuring access to mammography and other cancer-screening programs and health insurance.
"Clearly combatting smoking and the ill health effects that come with it is very important," Cuomo administration spokesman Richard Azzopardi said. It is too early to speculate what funding will be in next year's budget, he said.
Meanwhile, Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed legislation Monday to require mammography services to inform patients if dense breast tissue is found during an exam, which can make it harder to find cancer on a mammogram and may also be associated with an increased risk of the disease.
"The silver lining in the data that we found is lung cancer rates in New York City are significantly lower than both the state average and the national average," said Blair Horner, the society's advocacy director for New York and New Jersey.
The report showed cancer rates of 598 per 100,000 men in upstate New York, 522 in New York City and 541 nationally.
The rates for women were 460 per 100,000 upstate, 389 in the city and 411 nationally.
For lung cancer, the rates were 84 cases per 100,000 men upstate, 66 in the city and 75 nationally; for women, 64 upstate, 41 in the city, 52 nationally.