2016-02-07 / Insight

Fighting back

HEALTH STATISTICS: Prostate cancer among most prevalent local disease
810-452-2609 • kjohns@mihomepaper.com

LAPEER — Cancer. It’s one of the scariest words out there and it seems it’s heard more and more often. Most people know someone who has been affected by the disease, and more people are being affected every day.

Cancer is a disease caused by the division of abnormal cells in the body, and it doesn’t discriminate. Breast or prostate, skin, brain or lung. Young, old and anyone in between. Sometimes it’s aggressive, or found too late. Other times, it’s detected early, whether through routine screening or just luck, and it’s treated once and for all. For many, particularly those who have a history, it seems like a ticking bomb which could blow at any moment.

According to statistics from the Michigan Dept. of Community Health (the most recent available), the average number of cancer cases in Lapeer County between the years of 1998 and 2002 was 384.2 new invasive cases per year. Prostate cancer was at the top of the list with 63.8 cases per year, followed by lung cancer with 53.8 cases, breast cancer with 51.4 cases, and colon and rectum cancer with 44 cases.

The per-year average jumped to 459.2 between 2003 and 2007, and to 501.8 for 2008- 2012; and prostate, lung, breast and colon cancers, in that order, were still among the most prevalent types.

Full information wasn’t yet available for 2013, but the MDCH did report that there were 193 cancer deaths in Lapeer County that year (second to heart disease, with 210 deaths), including one child.

“Lapeer County rates are a little higher than the state as a whole, but there is quite a large margin of error,” said Lapeer County Health Dept. Director Stephanie Simmons. “We know that life-style factors such as poor nutrition (lack of fruits/vegetables, etc.) and smoking contribute to higher cancer rates and we know that Lapeer County has a higher incidence of smoking, obesity and physical inactivity than many Michigan counties. This could play a part as well.”

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