The Northeast Regional Cancer Institute, a local community-based nonprofit organization, released the latest “Cancer in Northeastern Pennsylvania: Incidence and Mortality for Common Cancers” surveillance report. The report is available at cancernepa.org.
This locally focused report was compiled by Cancer Institute Surveillance Coordinator, Karen Ryczak, RN, and Medical Director Samuel Lesko, MD, MPH. It documents that both incidence and mortality rates for cancer are significantly higher in NEPA than the U.S. It also identifies those cancer sites for which there is a disparity in either incidence or mortality.
Of note, tobacco-related cancers, such as lung, larynx, oral cavity, pharynx and bladder cancers continue to be statistically significantly higher than the U.S. rate in both men and women.
Also noteworthy, the incidence rate of cervical cancer in NEPA was 33% higher than the rate for the U.S. Most cases of cervical cancer are caused by infection with the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV). While HPV is very common and most infections with this virus are harmless and resolve on their own, some women with HPV go on to develop cervical cancer.
There is good news; in recent decades, deaths from cervical cancer in the U.S. have decreased substantially, in large part due to the Pap test. Screening with the Pap test can detect cervical cancer at an early stage before symptoms develop when it is much easier to treat and cure. Females should have the Pap test at least once every three years, beginning no later than age 21. Also, to prevent high risk HPV infections preteens and unvaccinated young adults should be vaccinated according to current guidelines.
The goal in sharing these data is to raise awareness across the community and to promote collaborative efforts to reduce the risk of select cancers through healthy lifestyle choices and adherence to proper screening guidelines. The report offers important insight for Northeastern Pennsylvania residents, health professionals and government leaders.