Cancer rates in Warren County are too high, according to local health officials. The prevalence of cancer cases in the county has led the state Health Department to conduct a study to determine why. While they will study demographics, occupational and environmental factors, and behaviors in the county, the study’s parameters appear to already be leaning to one reason for the high cancer rates – smoking.
According to the state’s registry of local cancer data, 561 out of every 100,000 residents in Warren County were diagnosed with some type of a cancer from the years 2011 to 2015. It is higher than averages throughout the state and makes Warren County the county with the highest cancer rates throughout the state.
Officials are not sure of the reason for the high rate, but have selected smoking as their main focus as they conduct the study. This means that although the local cancer data points to all types of cancers, the study will only focus on the types of cancers most commonly caused by smoking. These include lung, esophageal, oral, laryngeal, and brain cancers.
However, smoking rates in Warren County are dropping. While it sat at 21 percent in 2009, it fell to 18 percent in 2016. There seems to be no reason given as to why only cancers caused from smoking are those being studied when fewer people in Warren County are smoking.
“While it is a good idea to study the high rates of cancer in Warren County and determine a reason for them, this study limits the source of those higher rates by first only studying smoking-related cancers and then assuming that patients who are diagnosed with those kinds of cancer are actually smokers and that their behavior is to blame for the high rates, says John Fisher of John H. Fisher, P.C. “Perhaps it would also be beneficial to study when patients started feeling sick and when they first started receiving treatment. It may be found that many of these cases started out as a more treatable form of cancer and metastasized or that there were other shared factors involved that need to be addressed to avoid future cancer diagnoses.”
While the study is focusing on the types of cancer that come mainly from smoking, state health officials will also be working with the Department of Environmental Conservation to determine if environmental factors could also be contributing to Warren County’s high cancer rates.