New York State Department of Health Recognizes National Cancer Research Month

Department is Educating Residents About the Importance of Cancer Research

ALBANY, N.Y. (May 25, 2023) –The New York State Department of Health recognizes National Cancer Research Month by raising awareness of the significant impact that research has had on treating and curing people of cancer.

"Cancer is a disease that causes a devastating impact on those who are diagnosed as well as their loved ones," Acting State Health Commissioner Dr. James McDonald said.  "Due to remarkable advances in areas such as cancer research, there are more than 1.1 millioncancer survivors in New York State who are not only living but thriving despite their diagnosis and past obstacles. Even though there has been outstanding progress over the years, too many people still suffer and die of cancer."

The burden of cancer in New York is significant. Each year, approximately 115,000 New Yorkers learn they have cancer, and nearly 34,000 die from the disease. While cancer impacts all New Yorkers and their families across the state, rates of cancer diagnoses and poor cancer outcomes are strongly linked to existing disparities in cancer related to race and ethnicity. Some of these known disparities include the following:

  • Non-Hispanic Black men have by far the highest rates of prostate cancer incidence and mortality of any racial/ethnic group.
  • Cervical cancer incidence is higher among non-Hispanic Black and Hispanic women. Cervical cancer mortality is highest among non-Hispanic Black women.
  • Non-Hispanic Black individuals experience higher incidence rates of regional and distant stage disease for female breast cancer, cervical cancer, and colorectal cancer.
  • While non-Hispanic white women have the highest incidence rates of breast cancer, non-Hispanic Black women have the highest mortality rates, according to data on cancer incidence and mortality in New York.

The Department has established extensive programs and initiatives to help educate New Yorkers about cancer, as well as provide support to individuals and families who are impacted by the disease.

The New York State Cancer Services Program (CSP) offers free breast, cervical, and colorectal cancer screening, diagnostic testing, and referral to treatment to eligible uninsured and underinsured people. The program is administered through 21 CSP grantees covering every county and borough in New York State. Grantees focus their efforts on reaching individuals who lack access to services and who bear a disproportionate burden of cancer to improve cancer outcomes and reduce health disparities.

The Cancer Surveillance Improvement Initiative is designed to answer questions of many New Yorkers about the cancer incidence in their communities. It provides data tables and maps of cancer incidence. CSII also provides information on cancer, its possible causes and how to interpret cancer data and graphs.

The New York State Cancer Registry participates in Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's National Program of Cancer Registries and the National Cancer Institute's Surveillance, End Results and Epidemiology program to collect standardized information on all cancer cases in New York. This information allows researchers, doctors, policy makers, public health professionals and members of the public to monitor the burden of cancer, evaluate cancer prevention and control programs, and identify focus areas for research and policy development.

The New York State Cancer Registry also actively collaborates on research studies with a goal of improving cancer outcomes and reducing health disparities. Current studies include the RESPOND Study of research on prostate cancer in men of African ancestry and several studies examining racial disparities in diagnosis and outcomes for breast, uterine, and ovarian cancer. These research studies involve collaborations with researchers throughout the United States and seek to improve care and outcomes for all New Yorkers diagnosed with cancer. In addition, the New York State Cancer Registry participates in the Virtual Pooled Registry- Cancer Linkage System (VPR-CLS) that allows researchers to conduct minimal risk linkage studies with multiple central cancer registries.

The New York State Cancer Consortium is a statewide network made up of more than 200 members from the public and private sectors whose missions are aligned with reducing cancer incidence and mortality. Consortium Action Teams come together to address some of New York's highest burden of preventable cancers, including colorectal cancer, cancers caused by the human papilloma virus, lung cancer, skin cancer, and health and wellness issues for New York's many cancer survivors. The Department is an active member, participating in the Consortium's Steering Committee, providing support to the committee and other Consortium work groups, and facilitating the development and evaluation of the New York State Comprehensive Cancer Control Plan.

Over the last seven years, the Department of Health has awarded 26 NY-based cancer research centers awards to support innovative, hypothesis-generating Prostate Cancer Research projects. In total, the 26 research centers conducted 51 hypothesis development research projects. Hypothesis development is an important phase of the research process in which evidence is gathered to develop new research questions that inform future studies and establish the basis for pursuing additional funding opportunities through entities such as the National Institutes of Health, National Cancer Institute, or the Department of Defense. These grants maximize the potential impact and reach of Department funding to advance research into prostate cancer to address its heavy burden on New Yorkers.

Each year, over 15,000 New York State citizens are diagnosed with breast cancer and approximately 2,544 die from the disease. The Health Research Science Board (HRSB) was created in 1996 to support research and education for the cure and prevention of breast cancer. To date, the HRSB has recommended over $20 million in breast cancer research studies and education projects supported by the Breast Cancer Research and Education Fund.

The Department continues to encourage New Yorkers to educate themselves about cancer, to get screened, and to urge their loved ones to do the same.

Enrolling in health care coverage can improve access to medical care and reduce the risk of illness, including cancer. To enroll in health coverage or to find out about financial assistance to lower the cost of health coverage, contact the NY State of Health at 1-855-355-5777 (TTY: 1-800-662-1220) or visit Resources | NY State of Health.

To find a nearby screening location, visit New York's Cancer Services Program.

The New York State Cancer Registry and cancer statistics can be found here.

More information on cancer, including cancer types, prevention, treatment, and resources can be found here, including information about Cancer Survivorship found here.