Nursing Home Malpractice
Cancer data point to Massachusetts
The Bay State led the nation in the number of women
with breast cancer and Hodgkin's lymphoma, according to a landmark
study released yesterday. Massachusetts was also in the top five states
for 10 other cancer categories and above the national average in 22
But why and what to do about it are questions the report issued by the
Centers for Disease Control leaves up to researchers and policy makers.
The study of 1999 data is the first of its kind - a nationwide comparison
of cancer rates broken down by region and state.
``This is a larger population than has ever been surveyed before,''
said Hannah Weir, a CDC cancer expert. ``It will help us to describe
the underlying factors that contribute to the incidences of cancer.''
Cancer is the second-leading cause of death among Americans.
In the United States, one of every four deaths is due to cancer. This
year, about 1.3 million people will be diagnosed with the disease, according
to the American Cancer Society, and about 555,500 will die because of
Until now, researchers have had broad information about cancer among
only 14 percent of the population. This expands the reach to 78 percent.
``With this new data, we can better identify, understand and address
differences in cancer rates across the country,'' said Tommy Thompson,
U.S. Health and Human Services secretary. ``The state and regional data
will prove invaluable to public health officials as they plan and evaluate
cancer control programs and conduct research.''
In Massachusetts, the age-adjusted rate of non-invasive breast cancer
was 47 per 100,000 compared to a national rate of 28.8. The rate for
Hodgkin's lymphoma among women in the Bay State was 3.2 compared to
a national rate of 2.5.
Compared to the national averages, Bay State women had higher incidences
of several cancers including lung, colon, melanoma, pancreas, thyroid,
larynx, and brain. Bay State men had higher rates of stomach, brain
and thyroid cancers.
The rate of cancer among Bay State men was 588.6 per 100,000 compared
to a national rate of 552.3. The District of Columbia had the highest
rate at 667.1. Rhode Island was second-highest at 644.7
The rate for Bay State women was 451.5 per 100,000 compared to a national
rate of 420.1. Rhode Island was the highest with 487 followed by Connecticut
The study also found that prostate cancer was the leading category
in men, regardless of race, followed by lung and colon cancers.
Among women, the leading cancer was of the breast, followed by
that of the lung and colon.
The current report examines data from 37 states that met uniform reporting
requirements. But future reports will include all 50 states.
``We begin now to get a sense of the geographic variation of cancer
incidences,'' Weir said.
The existing data, though paltry by comparison to the new report, has
already spurred large amounts of planning and research, said Dr. Judy
Garber, director of risk and prevention at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.
``It's been quite good, but this is larger so it should be better,''
she said. ``There are subtle variations that might become more apparent.''
It could help determine what cancers should be targeted in certain areas
for screening and preventive efforts. Areas with high incidences of
lung cancers might be prime areas for anti-smoking campaigns. Areas
with high incidences of breast cancer might need more mobile mammogram
``It's a great source for research projects and for policy makers who
really have to figure out how to use the increasingly limited resources
they have to fight cancer,'' Garber said.
Overall, the annual amount the country will spend to deal with cancer
will be about $171.6 billion this year, according to the National Institutes
of Health. That includes direct medical costs of $60.9 billion. Those
costs are expected to increase as the population grows.
``To reduce the nation's cancer burden, we must reduce the prevalence
of behavioral and environmental factors that increase cancer risk, and
we must ensure that high-quality screening services and evidence-based
treatment protocols are available and accessible, particularly to medically
underserved populations,'' the CDC wrote in the report.
Eventually, the report could be used to identify cancer clusters - areas
in which there are certain types of cancers caused by geographic specific
factors. But this report is limited to discovering such trends because
it is only one year, Weir said.
The report was produced jointly by the CDC and the National Cancer Institute
in collaboration with the North American Association of Central Cancer
In all, the report contains details about 66 primary cancers for men
and 70 for women. Unlike other studies, it shows regional as well as
Source Boston Herald 11/19/02