Cancer concerns tops agenda at health council meeting

Posted By | April 1, 2002 12:00 am

Kim Swindell Wood
With concerns about the growing rates of cancer in this area, White County Health Council members have been attempting to get answers to their questions. On Tuesday, Dr. Toni Bounds, program director for the Tennessee Cancer Registry, spoke at the health council meeting and addressed the concerns of the group.
According to Bounds, cancer registries collect data about the occurrences of cancer, the types of cancer that occur, the body site location, the extent of disease at the time of diagnosis, the kinds of treatment received by cancer patients and the outcome of treatment and clinical management. Cancer data are reported to a central statewide registry from a variety of medical facilities including hospitals, physicians’ offices, therapeutic radiation facilities, freestanding surgical center and pathology laboratories.
Data collected by state cancer registries enable public health professionals to better understand and address the cancer burden. Information derived through cancer registries is critical for directing effective cancer prevention and control programs focused on preventing risk behaviors for cancer and reducing environmental risk factors.
State cancer registries are designed to:
– Determine cancer patterns among various populations
– Monitor cancer trends over time
– Guide planning and evaluation of cancer control programs
– Help set priorities for allocating health resources
– Advance clinical, epidemiologic and health services research
– Provide information for an aggregated and centralized database of cancer incidence in the United States
Bounds said the procedure for accurately collecting data had been difficult to achieve, but the cancer registry has developed a method that provides excellent statistics. However, she stated the program was still underreporting by approximately 10 percent because of outpatient centers and treatment centers not reporting their findings.
According to Bounds, a person may live in White County, Tenn. and go elsewhere for diagnosis and treatment. The patient’s data will be entered to depict the place of residence. This procedure will guarantee accurate reporting for determination of environmental concerns about cancer.
Dr. Charles Mitchell expressed concern about the time frame of cancer statistics. Bounds said the most up-to-date statistics could be five to six years old. “You will never get any statistics that are newer than two to three years,” said Bounds.
Bounds’ statement elicited immediate discussion by council members. “What good to us is information that is five to six years old,” said Mitchell. “Too many people are dying in White County from cancer and that data is not going to help us.”
Wallace Austin, president of Sparta-White County Chamber of Commerce, echoed Mitchell’s consternation. “We need to be able to obtain more recent statistics or this information is of no use to us,” he said.
“The registry doesn’t even collect any information on a cancer patient until six months after the diagnosis,” said Bounds.
Bounds provided the health council with the most recent statistics.
The White County Health Council meets at 12 noon, the last Tuesday of each month, at White County Community Hospital.

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