Jefferson County Experiencing High Cancer Rates Due to Aging Population, Environmental Factors

JEFFERSON CO., Pa. (EYT) – With Pennsylvania ranked at No. 4 for the highest rates of cancer in the country, prevention techniques and medical technology upgrades are hot topics within local cancer treatment centers.

Tracy Myers, manager of the Clarion Hospital Cancer Center, and Nancy Sansone, of the Cancer Registrar, said there are a number of reasons why Pennsylvania, especially rural counties like Clarion, Venango, and Jefferson, see higher rates than other parts of the country.

These include older age among residents, environmental and lifestyle factors, and increasingly better methods of detection.

“Simply having a cancer center in your community increases awareness, increases earlier detection, and that’s why we reach out to the community to try to educate about prevention, about screenings,” Myers explained.

The small population of northwestern Pennsylvania can result in skewed statistics when looking at cancer rates. Myers said as much as one extra case can cause a dramatic rate increase. These cases are taken into consideration when state and national cancer averages are tabulated every year.

“Nancy and I will sometimes see an uptake in one particular type of cancer, and it alarms us, but she always reminds me that you have to look at long-term numbers because you are going to have peaks and valleys in certain things,” Myers said.

Sansone said that what cancer and research centers have learned about genetics and immune systems is affecting recent medical treatments. She hopes to see blood screenings replace more invasive screenings for prostate, colon and rectal cancers, among others.

No matter the case, Myers and Sansone stressed the importance of getting regularly screened. For more information on cancer screenings and treatment methods, visit cancer.gov.

Below is the most recent data comparing seven separate cancer rates in Clarion, Jefferson, and Venango Counties, according to the National Cancer Institute.

County by County Cancer Rates (age-adjusted incidence rate, cases per 100,000 population per year)

All Cancer Sites

  • Clarion: 495.4
  • Jefferson: 495.4
  • Venango: 487.7
  • Highest in State – Cameron County: 560.4
  • Lowest in State – Juniata County: 393.5

Breast Cancer

  • Clarion: 118.2
  • Jefferson: 118.6
  • Venango: 127.9
  • Highest in State – Wyoming County: 144.2
  • Lowest in State – Huntingdon County: 94.6

Colon and Rectal Cancer

  • Clarion: 53.2
  • Jefferson: 50.0
  • Venango: 46.2
  • Highest in State – Cameron County: 56.8
  • Lowest in State – Fulton County: 32.0

Leukemia

  • Clarion: 16.0
  • Jefferson: 12.6
  • Venango: 13.5
  • Highest in State – Tioga County: 18.6
  • Lowest in State – Fayette County: 9.3

Lung and Bronchus Cancer

  • Clarion: 59.2
  • Jefferson: 70.5
  • Venango: 77.0
  • Highest in State – Fayette County 81.8
  • Lowest in State – Indiana County: 50.1

Melanoma – Skin Cancer

  • Clarion: 25.6
  • Jefferson: 23.9
  • Venango: 21.4
  • Highest in State – Fulton County: 31.8
  • Lowest in State – Fayette County: 9.1

Prostate Cancer

  • Clarion: 158.8
  • Jefferson: 157.4
  • Venango: 122.5
  • Highest in State – Cameron County: 218.0
  • Lowest in State – Juniata County: 61.5

State by State Cancer Rates (age-adjusted incidence rate, cases per 100,000 population per year)

All Cancer Sites

  • Pennsylvania: 489.8 (#4)
  • Highest Rate in Country – Kentucky: 510.9
  • Lowest Rate in Country – Nevada and Arizona: 386.6
  • Nationwide: 453.8

Breast Cancer

  • Pennsylvania: 128.1 (#13)
  • Highest Rate in Country – Washington D.C.: 141.7
  • Lowest Rate in Country – Arkansas and Nevada: 107.9
  • Nationwide: 123.0

Colon and Rectal Cancer

  • Pennsylvania: 45.4 (#11)
  • Highest Rate in Country – Kentucky: 51.4
  • Lowest Rate in Country – Nevada and Utah: 32.8
  • Nationwide: 41.9

Leukemia

  • Pennsylvania: 14.0 (#17)
  • Highest Rate in Country – Wisconsin: 16.5
  • Lowest Rate in Country – Nevada and Washington D.C.: 10.2
  • Nationwide: 13.2

Lung and Bronchus Cancer

  • Pennsylvania: 67.1 (#23)
  • Highest Rate in Country – Kentucky: 97.5
  • Lowest Rate in Country – Nevada and Utah: 28.6
  • Nationwide: 63.7

Melanoma – Skin Cancer

  • Pennsylvania: 20.4 (#30)
  • Highest Rate in Country – Utah: 32.8
  • Lowest Rate in Country – Nevada and Washington D.C.: 7.8
  • Nationwide: 19.9

Prostate Cancer

  • Pennsylvania: 133.6 (#25)
  • Highest Rate in Country – Washington D.C.: 184.1
  • Lowest Rate in Country – Arizona and Nevada: 89.8
  • Nationwide: 131.7

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