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Roswell Park releases 'WNY Cancer Snapshot' assessing the impact of cancer across the region

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Posted at 12:00 PM, Sep 22, 2022
and last updated 2022-09-22 23:21:52-04

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center has released the "WNY Cancer Snapshot" which assesses the impact of cancer across the region.

The snapshot is based on publicly reported data from the New York State Cancer Registry and reports to the community the following:

  • Noteworthy changes in cancer incidence
  • Deaths from cancer
  • Variations in these trends among people of different races or ethnicities
“Education and outreach aimed at reducing cancer’s impact on our community is a hugely important part of what Roswell Park offers as a comprehensive cancer center. We closely track statistics on how cancer impacts our community — and how it impacts distinct communities differently — because that intelligence guides our strategies for advancing health equity and improving public health. And today we are proud to share this information with our community.”
- Roswell Park President, CEO and M&T Bank Presidential Chair in Leadership Candace S. Johnson, PhD

According to Roswell, its analysis of the data shows that:

  • Overall cancer incidence in WNY decreased by 1.1% between 2014 and 2019, meaning that about 92 fewer people were diagnosed with cancer each year.
  • Overall cancer deaths in WNY decreased by 8.8% between 2014 and 2019, meaning that about 246 fewer people in WNY died from cancer each year.
  • Death rates from three of the four most common cancers in this region declined from 2010 to 2019: lung cancer declined by nearly 18%, from 52.4% to 42.9%; breast cancer from 22.9% to 20.6%; and colorectal cancer from 14.1% to 12.7%.
  • Black Western New Yorkers are more likely to die from lung, breast, prostate, and colorectal cancer — persistent disparities that remain despite the region’s overall improvement in cancer.
  • From 2015-2019, across all races/ethnicities, incidence of the 10 most common cancers and deaths from 9 out of the 10 most deadly cancers were higher in Western New York than in the state and/or nationwide.
“We’re encouraged by the overall picture we see from the data. Data like these help us understand where we are seeing improvement, and highlight high-priority opportunities to save lives and improve the health of communities across Western New York.”
- Elizabeth Bouchard, PhD, Senior Vice President and Associate Director for Community Outreach and Engagement at Roswell Park and also a Professor of Oncology in its Department of Cancer Prevention & Control

You can find the full snapshot here.

Two cancer survivors have made it their mission to make a lasting positive impact on those fighting cancer.

Donald Lee was diagnosed with prostate cancer when he was 66-years-old. That was 7 years ago. He is now working to change the stigma surrounding cancer in the Black community. He's a member of the Roswell Community Advisory Board.

"I was ashamed to tell anyone I had cancer. I think a lot of people are like that. Then I decided I need to tell everybody so maybe I can save somebody's life," Lee said, "Roswell has been a dirty word in the Black community because a lot of people think that's where you go to die, but that's where you go to get treated. That's where you go to get diagnosed."

Kaely Kwitek is the co-founder of Kaely's Kindness. The organization helps teens navigate their journey with cancer and raises awareness about pediatric cancer.

"I didn't want to go through chemo. I didn't want to believe I had it. I didn't want to lose my hair. That was like the first question I asked. I'm like, 'Am I going to lose my hair?" and the doctor said yes, I'm like 'Mom, I'm not doing this. I will be fine," Kwitek said, "How everyone goes pink for breast cancer, I would love for everyone to go gold in September for all the children, all the types of cancer, not just one type, but for every child that was diagnosed."