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Cancer cluster at Buffalo-Cheektowaga border prompts outreach campaign

Erie County devoting $250,000 to public awareness

BUFFALO, NY (WIVB) Erie County is in the process of launching a public awareness campaign about the high rate of cancer along the Buffalo Cheektowaga border. 

"It's just more about awareness," said Erie County Legislator Howard Johnson, who represents part of the community which has become the focus of a comprehensive cancer prevention outreach program. Erie County has set aside a quarter million dollars and put out a request for proposals for an organization that will be able to perform a large scale health information initiative in the Bailey Genesee and Pine Ridge Genesee areas. The State has determined that that area has elevated rates of six kinds of cancer. 

Sometime this summer, there will be more community outreach in the area is bordered by the Kensington Expressway, the mainline Thruway and Walden Avenue to the south, according to Johnson. "Especially in some of these impacted communities where there's a possibility that there could be cancer, you want to get checked."

The biggest question of why there seems to be more cancer in this neighborhood hasn't been answered yet, at least not publicly. If the State Health Department has some indication of the answer, we may know later this year with the State Health Department releases a report.

"People shouldn't panic thinking that they've been exposed to bad environmental carcinogens," said Dr. Christine Ambrosone, an epidemiologist with Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center. She says, often times, it has nothing to do with pollution. "For example, the cancers that were identified; kidney, esophageal, lung and oral cancers. Those are all increased by smoking. So if more people live in that area are smokers, that could to some extent account for that. And prostate cancer, the highest rates of prostate cancer are in black men. So if that area as it does, includes more African Americans, that could also account in part, so all of these things will need to be looked at, and I don't think people should get freaked out that they're living on top of a landmine of contaminants."

Find out more by reading the request for proposals here. 


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