The American Cancer Society released a report in July 2012 entitled The Cancer Burden in New York State. This report states that more than 107,000 New Yorkers received a cancer diagnosis in 2011 and more than 34,000 died from the disease. A different way to look at that figure is that roughly 2,000 New Yorkers are diagnosed with cancer and 660 individuals die from cancer each week.
This report contains detailed cancer information on each county of New York state; for instance, men living in Jefferson and St. Lawrence counties have lung cancer rates higher than the state average. Women residing in Jefferson and St. Lawrence counties experience the highest rates of lung cancer in the state.
The report identifies that upstate, rural counties tend to have adult smoking rates higher than the statewide average, especially the Adirondacks and Central New York. In 2010, the adult smoking rates in our tri-county area were 25 percent in St. Lawrence County, 24.9 percent in Jefferson and 18.9 percent in Lewis. Tobacco use is the most important single factor associated to lung and other cancers, as well as other chronic diseases.
New Yorks tobacco control program, combined with policy measures including a high tobacco excise tax and public smoking restrictions, have led to a decline in the rate of tobacco use among both children and adults. The decline in smoking has not occurred among the poor those least able to afford the cost of cigarettes and the consequences of addiction. Smoking among those with less than a high school education was unchanged between 2000 and 2010, a period during which tobacco use significantly declined among all other groups with more education. Those with less than a high school education now smoke at a rate three times greater than that of college graduates.
The report makes several recommendations:
■ Create policies and laws that prevent cancer, such as reversing the decline in funding for the state Tobacco Control Program.
■ Enhance early detection of cancer by adequately funding the NYS Cancer Services Program that provides free breast, cervical and colon cancer screening to the uninsured.
■ Ease the economic toll of cancer by ensuring that all New Yorkers have access to quality, affordable health insurance coverage.
■ Improve patients quality of life through better palliative care and pain management, and enhanced health care provider education.
The writer is coordinator of Tobacco Cessation Center of Northern New York.