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U.S. Releases Comprehensive Look at Cancer Rates

New report covers 84 percent of the population

THURSDAY, Nov. 13, 2003 (HealthDayNews) -- A new report on cancer rates across the United States inches closer to the goal of complete numbers that can help hone state-by-state prevention and treatment efforts, federal epidemiologists say.

The summary, United States Cancer Statistics: 2000 Incidence Report, includes data from 41 states, the District of Columbia and six metropolitan areas covering 84 percent of the country's population. That's up from the 78 percent coverage rate from last year's report, which had data for 1999.

For all ethnic groups, the summary says, prostate cancer is the leading malignancy among men, and breast cancer among women. Lung cancer is the second-leading cancer for all men and for white women, while colorectal cancer is second among black and Asian/Pacific Island women.

The report, released Thursday by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, is a joint effort of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Cancer Institute, in collaboration with the North American Association of Cancer Registries.

"It's important for all states to have complete information on cancer incidence because there are a lot of local factors that are important in cancer prevention and treatment," says Patricia Jamison, a CDC epidemiologist who worked on the report.

Federal money and advice have been essential in helping states assemble the data, Jamison says. "There have been different levels of data gathering," she adds. "Some states got started on cancer registries only when we gave them money."

The hope is that complete information on cancer incidence for every state will become available "in the next two or three years," Jamison says. "The CDC is working with the states that do not have data in this report."

One new feature of the latest report is the addition of data on people of Asian/Pacific Island origin. Overall, they have lower cancer incidence rates than whites and blacks, the numbers show.

There are some notable geographic differences in cancer rates in the report.

For example, the District of Columbia has highest rate of prostate cancer, and Arizona has the lowest. Rhode Island has the highest rate of colorectal cancer among men, and Alaska has the highest rate for women. New Mexico has the lowest rate of colorectal cancer for both men and women.

In addition, Kentucky has the highest incidence rate of lung cancer for men, Nevada has the highest rate for women, and Utah has the lowest rate for both men and women.

Some racial differences are also marked. The incidence of prostate cancer among black men is 50 percent higher than for white men. White women are 20 percent more likely to have breast cancer than black women. More ethnic data will be added in future reports, Jamison says.

Several states have active programs using cancer incidence data, she notes. California has an ongoing study among farm workers, aimed at determining whether incidence of different cancers might be related to occupational exposure to chemicals used in agriculture. And Michigan has been studying cancer incidence among low-income Medicaid recipients.

More information

The full report is available from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. For more on cancer, visit the American Cancer Society.

SOURCES: Patricia Jamison, M.P.H., epidemiologist, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta; United States Cancer Statistics: 2000 Incidence Report, Nov. 13, 2003
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