Neighbors raise concerns about cancer findings in Western New York

Local News

Many people are concerned about rising cancer rates in parts of western New York. A state report found elevated rates in several types of cancer in parts of Buffalo and Cheektowaga.

“What research are they doing to find out why so many people are getting cancer in the area,” said Kim Hall who lives in Depew.

That’s the question Kim hall has after learning she lives in the area included in statewide cancer study.

New York State Department of Health says there have been higher rates of lung, oral, esophageal, colorectal, kidney and prostate cancer on the east side of Buffalo and the western part of Cheektowaga.

Fantah Whitt says her boyfriend is a colorectal cancer survivor. She wants to know what the state is going to do.

“It’s definitely affected my family and I don’t think it’s going to stop affecting my family. Unfortunately, the east side has had higher rates of cancer than other communities for quite some time,” said Whitt.

now state health officials are investigating why that is and focusing on the areas included in a map west and north of the 33 and south to Walden Avenue.

“It’s not as simple as where you live and so, for people who live in the community they should not be considering moving,” said Brad Hutton, Deputy Commissioner of Public Health for the New York State Department of Health.

Hutton says it’s not about where you live, but what you may be exposed to.

“Their cancer risk is so much more complicated than where they live today. It’s a lifetime of exposures and behaviors,” said Hutton.

He says they’re looking at people’s behavior, environment and even where they work to see how those factors play a role.

Many people believe it could be environmental reasons.

Michelle Philips says her husband was diagnosed with kidney cancer in 2014.

“Never smoked a cigarette in his life, was within health weight. the reason I’m here tonight is because he worked for 12 years at American Axle,” said Michelle Philips.

State health officials say they’re looking into behaviors like smoking, tobacco, alcohol, obesity and access to healthcare or cancer screenings. 

“I just want to know if there’s a specific reason and if there’s anything they can do to make it better,” said Hall.

Health officials say now that they’re received input from the community they will finalize their study questions and areas of investigation. They plan to share their results and recommendations once this study is completed at the end of the year.

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