Cancer mortality high in county

Death rate locally above state and national averages

By Ashley Bunton -

The mortality rate for people with cancer in Fayette County is higher than state and national averages, but screening efforts by the Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center aim to bring those rates down.

The Ohio Cancer Incidence Surveillance System, Chronic Disease Epidemiology and Evaluation Section, and National Center for Health Statistics tracked people over a five-year period.

Thirty-one percent of all cancer deaths in Fayette County from 2008-2012 were from lung and bronchus cancer. The second-highest cancer mortality rate was for colon and rectum cancer, with a rate of 20 deaths per 100,000 compared to the U.S. rate of 15 per 100,000 residents. Men in Fayette County have higher incidences of cancer and die more often from cancer than do women in the county.

The data on cancer surveillance and statistics, compiled by the Ohio Department of Health, showed that between 2008-2012 the cancer mortality rate for men in Fayette County was 270 deaths per every 100,000 residents. The Ohio average was 227 per 100,000. The cancer mortality rate among men was lower nationally, with 207 deaths per every 100,000 residents.

For Fayette County women, the cancer mortality rate was 167 deaths per 100,000 residents, higher than the state average of 158 per 100,000. The overall U.S. rate for cancer mortality among women is 145 deaths per every 100,000 residents.

The Ohio Department of Health listed late stage diagnosis, less cancer screenings for Fayette County, and higher risk factors for rural county residents that contributed to the county’s higher than average cancer mortality rates.

In an effort to fight late stage diagnosis for colon and rectum cancer in rural areas, the Ohio Colorectal Cancer Prevention Initiative (OCCPI) is now enrolling patients through a network of 50 hospitals across the state of Ohio for blood testing through the Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center.

The blood test looks at a person’s genes to try and identify Lynch syndrome in genes.

Heather Hampel, a licensed genetic counselor with the Clinical Division of Human Genetics, Department of Internal Medicine at the Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center, said Lynch syndrome is not an inherited gene deformity, but rather is a gene mutation that occurs during the aging process.

“Lynch syndrome is caused by mutations in one of four mismatch repair genes (MLH1, MSH2, MSH6 or PMS2). These genes are normally responsible for repairing damage that occurs in our DNA naturally as part of the aging process. When they are not working correctly, this damage cannot be repaired, it builds up, and the cell can become cancerous,” said Hampel.

Hospitals in the region offering the OCCPI Lynch syndrome blood test include Adena Health System in Chillicothe, Doctors Hospital West in Columbus, Good Samaritan Hospital, Kettering Medical Center, and Miami Valley Hospital in Dayton.

In addition to the Lynch syndrome blood test, tumor screening tests can be conducted on tumors, which might provide individuals who have Lynch syndrome with the opportunity to treat the tumor using immune therapy.

“Immune therapy holds great promise,” said Hampel.

Death rate locally above state and national averages

By Ashley Bunton

Reach Ashley at (740) 313-0355 or on Twitter @ashbunton

Reach Ashley at (740) 313-0355 or on Twitter @ashbunton