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Report: Nevadans More Likely to Contract and Die of Cancer Compared with Southwest States

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Breast cancer survival in Nevada depends on whether you reside in the north or south.
Research  |  Oct 17, 2012  |  By Megan Downs
Media Contact: Megan Downs, Office of Media Relations (702) 895-0898

Nevadans are more likely than residents of neighboring states to contract and die of cancer, according to a report released by researchers at UNLV and the Nevada State Health Division.

In the report, UNLV researcher and epidemiologist Dr. Paulo Pinheiro argues that Nevada suffers from a lack of screening and less specialized expertise, which forces nearly 10 percent of cancer patients to be diagnosed or treated outside of the state.

This exodus of cancer patients has a substantial impact on patient quality of life and presents a negative financial impact on state health care providers and private insurance companies, Pinheiro said.

Cancer in Nevada is a comprehensive analysis of all cancer cases in Nevada from 2006 to 2008 and draws on data from the Nevada Central Cancer Registry.

The report also found alarming disparities in the level and quality of care between Northern and Southern Nevada.

For example, Southern Nevada had a higher incidence of cancer, more cancer deaths, lower screening rates and lower survival rates than Northern Nevada. Yet, 70 percent of all cancer cases occur in Southern Nevada.

Additionally, survival rates for breast cancer in Northern Nevada are near 82 percent after four years, which is roughly the national average; in Southern Nevada, survival rates are almost 10 percentage points lower.

"If you are resident of a state you would expect the same level of care anywhere in that state, but this is not happening in Nevada," Pinheiro said. "This discrepancy does not exist in other states around the nation and points to major differences in access to screening as well as quality healthcare between the two regions."

Pinheiro suggests Nevada boost prevention methods to curb cancer rates.

"An increase in the screening rates especially for those of low-income, as well as strengthening the interventions to reduce tobacco use and second hand smoke, could go a long way toward diminishing the cancer risk for Nevadans," he said.

Also in the report:

  • Nevada women, especially White women, show among the highest mortality rates for lung, colorectal and liver cancers in the country.
  • Lung cancer among Hispanics is about one-half that of non-Hispanic whites possibly related to the traditionally lower smoking rates in Hispanics
  • Whites in Nevada have higher incidence rates than all other racial groups for breast, bladder and colorectal cancers. Blacks showed high rates for prostate cancer, Hispanics have high rates for cancers of the stomach and uterine cervix while Asians have the highest rates for liver cancer.
  • Blacks and Hispanics are diagnosed at later advanced stage of disease more often than Whites and Asians, and may therefore be ineligible for effective treatment.

The report also examines aftermath data of the 2000 childhood cancer cluster in Nevada and cancer surveillance among the downwind populations of the Nevada National Security Site.

Read the full report.