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Deanna's Discoveries: Rochester is 3rd in the U.S in breast and lung cancers

Deanna Dewberry
Updated: November 21, 2019 03:18 PM
Created: November 19, 2019 07:51 PM

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — If you live in the Rochester area, the odds are higher that you'll be diagnosed with breast or lung cancer. That was the finding in a newly-released study.

When I was wheeled into an operating room to have my breast tumor removed, I had no idea that I was a part of a disturbing statistic, a statistic recently revealed in a newly-released analysis of data from the Centers for Disease Control.

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Rochester has the third-highest rates of breast and lung cancer in the nation, and I am just one of more than 650 women diagnosed in Monroe County last year.

The numbers don't surprise Dr. Stamatia Destounis, a radiologist at Elizabeth Wende Breast Care.

"I know that in Monroe County the incidence of breast cancer have been high, and it's been something that we've discussed," Dr. Destounis said. 

The study was released by Doximity, the self-proclaimed largest professional medical network in the country.  While the study did not examine the causes of high cancer incidence, recent statistics concerning smoking rates point to one possible cause. In the U.S.15 percent of adults smoke. Compare that to the city of Rochester where 22% smoke. 

Smoking is a major risk factor in not only lung cancer but also breast cancer, but there's good news in Monroe County. According to data collected by the county department of health, in 2017, an estimated 84% of women had gotten a mammogram within two years. That's higher than the mammography rate in the U.S. which is 77.6%.

"I think the numbers are high because women are getting screened," Dr. Destounis said.

Could that positive statistic be a factor in the area's high rate of breast cancer?  Dr. Destounis would like to think so.

"And we're finding very, very small tumors. So the incidence are very high, but our mortality rates, if you look at Monroe County are not very high,” Dr. Destounis said.

She's right. According to Monroe county health data, 70% of white women are diagnosed early as well as 59% of black women.

While Dr. Destounis believes the Rochester area has work to do in early detection, she believes we're doing better than much of the rest of the nation.

"If we're finding all these cancers, and they're bad cancers. You would expect more women are dying in Monroe County which isn't so. So I think this is good news not bad news for women," Dr. Destounis said.

What is *not* good news for women or men is the high rate of lung cancer in our area. Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death, and smoking is much to blame.


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