Arizona has the lowest cancer rate of any state in the United States, according to new data from a United States Cancer Statistics report.
The current report shows that Arizona has the lowest number of diagnosed cancer cases and the second-lowest mortality rate for cancer of any state. The report takes into account data for 2007, the most recent year of which this data is available.
The rates of lung, breast, colon and rectum, and prostate cancers are all below the national average. These types of cancer are the most commonly found cancers in the United States, according to Yira Bermudez, assistant professor of medicine at the Arizona Cancer Center.
Bermudez said preventing and detecting these cancers is one of the major goals of the Arizona Cancer Center, but also said that prevention of all cancers is a primary focus.
“All cancers can be deadly, especially when found late,” Bermudez said.
Bermudez said that early detection is important, and the primary way to support this is by educating the public on prevention techniques.
One of the main programs the Arizona Cancer Center promotes is “Living in Harmony with the Sun,” which aims to promote educational programs and events to help with the prevention of skin cancer in Arizona.
“These types of programs … educate people and we definitely think they are key to the prevention of cancer,” Bermudez said.
The data released shows an overall downward trend of the amount of people diagnosed and killed by cancer in the United States. Bermudez said that current research contributed by places such as the Arizona Cancer Center, which Bermudez said is a “top ten” cancer research center, has aided to this trend.
David S. Alberts, director of the Arizona Cancer Center, said this new data is “extremely welcome” but warned that this is only one small step in the ongoing battle against cancer.
“Unfortunately, our lowest rates are extremely high, when compared to other continents, and cancer continues to be the leading cause of death for all of us under 65,” Alberts said.
Alberts also offered insight into the possibility that Arizona’s cancer rates may actually increase in the future.
“A major reason why Arizona’s cancer rates are lower relates to our larger Hispanic and Native American populations that have relatively low rates of the common cancers,” Alberts said. “Sadly, because of the acculturation of these populations to the Western lifestyle, Arizona’s cancer rates will rise dramatically in the mid 21st century.”
Despite this possibility, Alberts and Bermudez are optimistic that their dedication to research, education and lowering disparities in the treatment of minorities can help Arizona in the long run.
Alberts said that an overall greater effort toward physical health by the population would facilitate a less cancerous Arizona population.
“There must be a much greater effort into reducing tobacco use and excessive alcohol intake, while improving nutrition and increasing physical activity and following guidelines for vaccination,” Alberts said.
Bermudez agreed that there needs to be an increase in overall nutrition and physical activity, but also added that it is important for the younger generation of Arizonans to realize that all of their actions today will affect them in the future.
“Cancer is more of an old-age disease, but at the same time, it is very important to educate teens and young people,” Bermudez said. “Later in your life, you will see the consequences of the behaviors you had as a young adult.”