STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. — After the Advance detailed the higher-than-average cancer rates on Staten Island, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced a one-year study to determine the cause.
"Why does Staten Island have a higher rate of cancer than the other boroughs?" asked Cuomo. "We need to have those questions answered."
The study, to be conducted by the state Department of Health (DOH) and Department of Environmental Conservation, will include Staten Island and three other New York counties — Suffolk, Warren and Erie.
Before the research begins, the DOH will hold a public meeting to hear from borough health officials, oncology control groups, environmental groups and residents.
The meeting will take place Tuesday, July 17, from 7 to 9 p.m. in the College of Staten Island.
The DOH will use the study’s findings to enhance cancer screenings, prevention efforts and access to high-quality care in the affected communities.
"The Department of Health, working with DEC, are going to study what health factors, demographic factors, environmental factors could be at play to suggest a reason for those differences [in cancer rates]," said Cuomo.
CANCER MAPPING USED
Brad Hutton, deputy commissioner for public health at the DOH, said geographic mapping was used to identify the borough’s high cancer rates.
The mapping technology determines the amount of cancer predicted to be in a small geographic location as well as the actual occurring rates. The analysis then identifies areas that have a higher than normal percentage, Hutton explained.
Data from 2011 to 2015 was used for the mapping process.
While the borough’s high rate of thyroid cancer compared to the state as a whole will be a focus of the investigation, all cancer rates will be studied, he said.
CANCER RATES ON STATEN ISLAND
In the most recent available cancer data from 2014, Staten Island had 2,781 reported incidences of out of 38,838 total in the five boroughs.
Staten Island accounted for 7.16 percent of all New York City cancer cases in 2014 while it has 5.5 percent of the city’s total population.
Thyroid cancer is more prevalent on Staten Island, according to the data. Between 2007 and 2011, thyroid cancer rates were 69.36 percent higher than New York City as a whole.
Breast, bladder and pancreatic cancers on Staten Island were also higher than the rest of the city with 14.97 percent for breast, 50.28 percent for bladder and 10.37 for pancreatic cancer.