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PO Box 360
Trenton, NJ 08625-0360

For Release:
September 14, 2005

Fred M. Jacobs, M.D., J.D.
Commissioner

For Further Information Contact:
Gretchen Michael or Marilyn Riley
(609) 984-7160


 
DHSS Releases Series of Reports Targeting Cancer Issues Specific to Each of New Jersey's 21 Counties


 

NEWARK – The New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services has created detailed reports on the specific cancer issues each county faces and actions to be taken to reduce cancer rates in those communities, Health and Senior Services Commissioner Fred M. Jacobs, M.D., J.D., announced today.

As part of a series of Minority and Multicultural Health Month events, the Commissioner made the announcement today at an event to promote colorectal cancer screening.  County reports and summary fact sheets are now available on the department’s web site at www.state.nj.us/health/ccp.

“Counties are unique and cancer impacts each one differently,” Dr. Jacobs said.   “These reports provide New Jersey’s first detailed look at the special problems each county faces in trying to reduce their cancer burden.  These reports can help focus local efforts in ways that will do the most good.”

The reports were developed by the department’s Office of Cancer Control and Prevention, in collaboration with the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey/New Jersey Medical School and the School of Public Health.

Joining the Commissioner at today’s event in Newark were Azadeh Tasslimi, coordinator of the Essex County Cancer Coalition, and Dr. Mark Sterling, interim director of the Division of  Gastroenterology at UMDNJ/ New Jersey Medical School and University Hospital.

Essex County’s report – formally known as a Cancer Capacity and Needs Assessment Report Summary – includes an analysis of data for priority cancers during the period 1996-2000.  Priority cancers are breast, cervical, colorectal, lung, melanoma, oral and prostate and prostate cancer.  Rates used in the reports are averages for the five-year period.

The report notes that Essex County generally has higher overall cancer incidence and death rates than the state as a whole.  The county also has the highest prostate cancer mortality rate of all the counties, and among the highest oral cancer death rates. 

For colorectal cancer, black men in the county have higher incidence and mortality rates than do white men.  Black women have similar incidence rates but higher mortality rates than white women, the report said.

“We’re working to reduce this health disparity through our Cancer Education and Early Detection Program (CEED), which targets minority, uninsured and underinsured people,” the Commissioner said.  The CEED program conducts outreach, education, screening and follow up for colorectal as well as breast, cervical and prostate cancer. 

“Precancerous polyps or growths can exist in the colon for years before developing into invasive colorectal cancer.  That’s why screening is so important,” Dr. Sterling said.  If we detect and remove these growths early, we can prevent colorectal cancer.  Screening also helps us detect and treat the cancer in its early stages, giving patients the best possible health outcome.” 

The Essex report also identifies a number of other cancer-related issues the county faces.  Among them are the need to remove financial and language barriers to screening, improve cancer education, reach pockets of medically underserved people in suburban areas, and increase patient access to hospice care.

The Cancer Capacity and Needs Assessments Reports are an outgrowth of the state’s Comprehensive Cancer Control Plan released in 2003.  Since the plan was released, the department has directed a statewide effort to conduct county-based needs assessments.  With grants from DHSS, each county hired and trained an evaluator to conduct the assessment.

Evaluators worked closely with cancer coalitions that mirrored each county’s diverse populations.  Included on the coalitions were health care providers, cancer survivors, local advocacy groups, social service organizations and many others.  To date, more than 700 volunteers statewide have been involved in creating and carrying out the state’s cancer plan.

The county cancer coalitions are responsible for implementing the state plan on the county level using the results of their respective needs assessments.  Based on the results of the assessment, each coalition will be undertaking projects aimed at increasing public awareness locally.

Today’s event is part of the Commissioner’s Healthy Communities for a Healthy New Jersey campaign, a month-long series of events to encourage New Jersey residents – especially members of minority communities – to lead healthier lifestyles.

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