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Elevated Cancer Rates In 3 Suffolk Towns Prompt Study

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The New York State Health Department says three communities in Suffolk County have elevated rates of leukemia, and lung, bladder, and thyroid cancers.  

Brad Hutton, New York State Deputy Commissioner for Public Health, says the incidents of these cancers in Centereach, Farmingville, and Selden run anywhere from 40 to 60 percent higher than the rest of the state, but that it’s too early to know what that means.

“Cancer risk is much more complicated than your residential address. It relates to your personal and family genetic history, your risk factor profile, and your lifetime of exposures.”

Dr. Yussuf Hannun with the Stony Brook Cancer Center says a more important number is the mortality rate.

“Often, an increase in detection of cancers can be a result of better detection approaches or awareness, better use of medical facilities, and that does not result in an increase in death.”

Both Hutton and Hannon say while the elevated rates need to be looked at further, there is no cause for alarm.

The next step is to study further environmental, occupational, and demographic factors.

Terry Sheridan is an award-winning audio journalist. As part of his duties as Senior Director of News and Education, he developed a unique and award-winning internship program with the Stony Brook University School of Communications and Journalism, where he is also a lecturer and adjunct professor. He also mentors graduate fellows from the Sacred Heart University Graduate School of Communication, Media, and the Arts.