Cancer Burden Report Tells A "Tale of Two States"

Cancer Rates Higher Upstate than Downstate 

(Albany, NY) (July 23, 2012) – A first-ever report from the American Cancer Society details the toll that cancer takes on the residents of New York State, county by county.  The Cancer Burden in New York State illustrates the difference in cancer rates upstate vs. downstate, attributing higher cancer incidence in upstate counties mainly due to a higher prevalence of smoking among residents. A top recommendation includes increased funding for the state’s anti-tobacco program. The report can be accessed at acscan.org/ny.

“Our analysis shows a ‘tale of two states,’” said Blair Horner, Vice President for Advocacy, American Cancer Society of NY & NJ.  “Upstaters face higher cancer rates than downstaters, which is largely attributable to a significant difference in lung cancer prevalence. We hope that this report will jump start a statewide discussion on how to reduce cancer incidence, identify cancers earlier, and to assist those in treatment.”

“Tobacco use is the single most important factor associated with cancer mortality, and is identified by the U.S. Surgeon General as a cause of 16 different types of cancer.” said Russ Sciandra, NYS Advocacy Director, American Cancer Society of NY & NJ. “Smoking accounts for at least 30 percent of cancer deaths, and both smoking rates and overall cancer rates are higher upstate than in New York City and surrounding counties . We can attribute the lower rates to especially vigilant efforts by New York City and the adjoining suburban counties to reduce tobacco use among their residents.”

Using data from the New York State Cancer Registry, the report closely examines incidence and mortality rates for New York’s four most common malignancies, lung, prostate, breast and colon cancer.  Data regarding number of cancer cases and deaths for these cancer sites is provided for the 62 counties of New York State.

Key findings of the report include:

  • Cancer rates in Upstate NY are generally higher than those found downstate.
  • Differences in cancer rates are found among counties in NY.
  • NYS has a higher cancer incidence rate than the nation as a whole, but has a lower death rate.
  • More than 107,000 New Yorkers were diagnosed with cancer in 2011, and more than 34,000 died from the disease.
  • Prostate cancer is New York’s most common cancer.
  • Lung cancer is the largest cancer killer, causing nearly 9,000 deaths.
  • Four cancers – lung, prostate, breast and colorectal – account for more than half of all cancer diagnoses and nearly half of all cancer deaths.
  • In addition to the emotional and physical toll that cancer has on patients and families, there can be an enormous financial impact.


Recommendations to reduce the number of cancer cases and deaths include:

  • Create policies and laws that prevent cancer, such as reversing the decline in funding for the NYS 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.


Data for the report was gathered from the NYS Department of Health Cancer Registry and the American Cancer Society Cancer Facts & Figures 2011. When reading the report, care should be taken to avoid over-interpreting findings that show large disparities in cancer incidence and mortality particularly in counties with small populations.

For more information about The Cancer Burden in New York State and the American Cancer Society’s legislative priorities, visit acscan.org/ny.

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About the American Cancer Society
The American Cancer Society combines an unyielding passion with nearly a century of experience to save lives and end suffering from cancer. As a global grassroots force of more than three million volunteers, we fight for every birthday threatened by every cancer in every community. We save lives by helping people stay well by preventing cancer or detecting it early; helping people get well by being there for them during and after a cancer diagnosis; by finding cures through investment in groundbreaking discovery; and by fighting back by rallying lawmakers to pass laws to defeat cancer and by rallying communities worldwide to join the fight. As the nation’s largest non-governmental investor in cancer research, contributing more than $3.4 billion, we turn what we know about cancer into what we do. As a result, more than 11 million people in America who have had cancer and countless more who have avoided it will be celebrating birthdays this year. To learn more about us or to get help, call us any time, day or night, at 1-800-227-2345 or visit cancer.org.



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