Venango County Ranked Fourth Highest in State for Incidence of Lung Cancer

| January 26, 2019

VENANGO CO., Pa. (EYT) – Venango County has one of the highest incidence rates for lung cancer in the state of Pennsylvania.

According to the National Cancer Institute‘s State Cancer Profiles, the age-adjusted incidence rate for lung and bronchus cancer for Venango County is 73.3 per 100,000 residents, which is the fourth highest rate of any county in Pennsylvania.

The overall rate for the state of Pennsylvania is 64.7 per 100,000 residents. Venango County’s rate also remains steady while the state rate has declined in the last five years.

Clarion County’s rate, in contrast, is 51.2 per 100,000 residents, which is the sixth-lowest rate among the counties in Pennsylvania, though it has also remained steady while the state rate has declined in the last five years.

Tracy Myers, Manager of the Cancer Center at Clarion Hospital, told exploreVenango.com that reductions in smoking and advances in early detection and treatments have contributed to the decline in lung cancer cases.

“Awareness about preventing lung cancer and learning about screenings for lung cancer are two very powerful tools that can help save lives,” explained Myers.

“Many people are aware that smoking, exposure to radon and asbestos are linked to lung cancer. Simply stated – eliminate the risk factors, and we can eliminate new cases of lung cancer.”

While smoking is still the number one cause of lung cancer, other risk factors for lung cancer include:

  • Being exposed to secondhand smoke.
  • Being exposed to asbestos, arsenic, chromium, beryllium, nickel, soot, or tar in the workplace.
  • Living where there is air pollution.
  • Having a family history of lung cancer.
  • Being infected with the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV).
  • Being a heavy smoker and taking beta carotene supplements.
  • Being exposed to radiation from any of the following:

    – Radiation therapy to the breast or chest.
    – Radon in the home or workplace.
    – Imaging tests such as CT scans.
    – Atomic bomb radiation.

According to Myers, lung cancer screenings have now become the standard of care.

medical hospital scan test stock

“Clarion Hospital has received accreditation for Low -Dose CT Lung Screening. We are able to offer this new tool/CT scan for physicians to screen patients right here in Clarion,” Myers noted.

“If you currently smoke and are between the ages of 55 to 75 or have a history of smoking, we strongly encourage you to talk to your primary care doctor to see if this is appropriate for you. When lung cancer is detected early, much less treatment is required and the likelihood of a cure rises significantly.”

The advances in treatment have also made a difference in the cases of lung cancer at the Cancer Center.

“When I began my career in oncology thirty years ago, the therapies to treat lung cancer were limited and very toxic. Although some of these older drugs are still used, the newer treatments for lung cancer have advanced greatly,” said Myers.

“Researchers have learned so much about the science of, the molecular nature of and the genetic makeup of cancer cells. There are also newer drugs that come in a pill form that block receptors so that new cancer cells can’t grow.”

In addition to looking at the cancer cells under a microscope, clinicians can send specimens to outside laboratories that look at the molecular makeup of the person’s cancer cells, which allows them to offer treatments that are much more personalized and targeted, according to Myers.

“It is so rewarding to witness how these new treatments can help patients and their families.”

“Despite these advances not all patients with lung cancer see these improved results. This is why continued research is needed. This is why eliminating risk factors is the best gift you can give to yourself and to the people that care about you. And, this is why it is so important if you have a smoking history that you talk to your doctor about lung cancer screening.”

In comparison, here are the lung cancer rates, per 100,000 residents, in our surrounding area:

  • Armstrong County – 63.9
  • Butler County – 60.2
  • Clearfield County – 61.1
  • Crawford County – 69.9
  • Elk County – 64.9
  • Forest County – 64.4
  • Indiana County – 52.4
  • Jefferson County – 64.2
  • Mercer County – 59.9
  • Warren County – 54.7

Venango County and all of the surrounding counties have rates that have remained stable over the last five years, while the national and state rates have been declining.

According to the National Cancer Institute, there are additional variables in terms of who is most at risk for developing lung cancer.

Lung cancer has continued to be more common in men than women. This holds true in our local area as the incidence rate for men in Venango County is 95.8, while the incidence rate for women is 55.0. Lung cancer incidences also vary widely by age. In the under 50 age group, Venango County had too few incidences (three or fewer) to even calculate a rate, while in the over 50 age group, the rate was a staggering 255.4 per 100,000 residents, which is the fourth highest rate for that age group in the state.

Though lung cancer has been in a slow decline over the last decade in our nation, it still accounts for about 13% of all new cancer cases in the U.S. and causes 25% of the cancer deaths in the nation, according to the National Cancer Institute. It remains the leading cause of cancer deaths in the U.S. with a current five-year survival rate of just 18%.

An estimated 6.2% of men and women will be diagnosed with lung and bronchus cancer at some point during their lifetime, based on the most recent data.

While these statistics may seem bleak, the good news is that the incidence rate of lung cancer has continued to decline both in the state of Pennsylvania and nationally. The most recent age-adjusted incidence rate for lung and bronchus cancer for the state of Pennsylvania is 64.7 per 100,000 residents and the national rate is 60.2 per 100,000.

This is a multi-part series focusing on cancer in our region. Check back next week for Part Three.


Copyright © 2019 EYT Media Group, Inc. All rights reserved. Any copying, redistribution or retransmission of the contents of this service without the express written consent of EYT Media Group, Inc. is expressly prohibited.

Category: Local News, News