Smoking eyed in higher upstate NY lung cancer rate

Associated Press Modified: July 23, 2012 at 4:46 pm •  Published: July 23, 2012

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — An American Cancer Society analysis released Monday showed higher lung cancer rates in upstate New York than in New York City, a trend society officials attributed to higher smoking rates in poorer areas.

The report, based on State Cancer Registry data from 2004 to 2008, said prostate, colorectal, breast and lung cancers account for about half the state's cases and deaths. There was a major geographic difference only in lung cancer.

Officials said that correlates with other state data showing a 13 percent smoking rate among city residents compared with 17 percent upstate.

"Lung cancer and the other smoking-related cancers — cancer of the mouth, cancer of the esophagus — also have generally worse prognoses," said Russell Sciandra, the society's lobbyist in Albany. "Smoking is the biggest single cause of cancer and cancer mortality in New York state."

In 2011, the society estimates 107,000 New Yorkers were diagnosed with cancer, while 34,000 died from the disease. Lung cancer killed 8,580 or one-fourth, by far the deadliest form.

The National Cancer Institute says an estimated 1.6 million Americans will be diagnosed and 577,000 will die this year. That includes 226,000 new lung cancer cases and 160,000 deaths.

The greater New York City metropolitan area, including the Hudson Valley and Long Island, has a much lower smoking rate than the state average, which Sciandra attributed to tougher anti-smoking policies in the city, including its earlier adoption of smoking restrictions and a $1.50 higher cigarette tax, as well as demographics. Even within New York City, poorer areas have high rates of smoking and cancer, he said.

"You would see the same kind of pattern upstate. You know, rural poor people," Sciandra said. "The relationship between income and education, especially income level and smoking, is very, very strong."

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