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This City Has The Highest Cancer Rate In Illinois

With millions of lives lost annually, cancer is a major concern when it comes to public health in the US. The National Cancer Institute reports that 608,570 people lost their lives to cancer in 2020, with an estimated 1.9 million new cases. Environmental exposure, lifestyle choices, socioeconomic level, healthcare accessibility, and genetic predisposition are some of the factors that contribute to regional differences in the cancer burden, meaning that not all locations have the same burden.

Statistics About Cancer in Illinois

An estimated 12.7 million people will call Illinois home in 2020, making it one of the most populous states in the nation. Also, compared to the rest of the country, its cancer rate is significantly higher. The Illinois State Cancer Registry and the Illinois Department of Public Health reported 77,660 new cases of cancer and 25,250 deaths caused by cancer in 2020.

The overall cancer incidence rate, after adjusting for age, was 459.7 per 100,000 people, which was higher than the 442.3 national rate. All malignancies had an age-adjusted death rate of 156.6 per 100,000, which was higher than the national rate of 149.5 per 100,000.

Illinois had 14,240 cases of breast cancer in 2020, 12,910 cases of lung and bronchus cancer, 10,720 cases of prostate cancer, 8,210 cases of colon and rectum cancer, and 4,140 cases of bladder cancer. The major causes of cancer-related deaths in Illinois that year were lung and bronchus (9,300 deaths), colon and rectum (2,820 deaths), pancreatic (2,280 deaths), breast (2,050 deaths), and liver and bile duct (1,720 deaths).

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Among Illinois Counties, Cook County Has the Highest Cancer Rates

In 2020, there will be almost 5.1 million people living in Cook County, making it the most populous county in Illinois. Unfortunately, this county also has the highest cancer rate in Illinois. In 2020, there were 30,610 new cancer cases and 10,040 cancer-related deaths in Cook County, according to the Illinois Department of Public Health and the Illinois State Cancer Registry.

With all cancers adjusted for age, the rate was 494.6 per 100,000 people, which was much higher than the state average of 459.7 per 100,000. In addition to being significantly higher than the state rate of 156.6 per 100,000, the age-adjusted death rate for all malignancies was 162.8 per 100,000 inhabitants.

In 2020, the following malignancies were most often diagnosed in Cook County: breast (5,560 instances), lung and bronchus (5,020 cases), prostate (4,020 cases), colon and rectum (3,200 cases), and bladder (1,620 cases). Lung and bronchus cancer (3,640 fatalities), colon and rectum cancer (980 deaths), pancreatic cancer (880 deaths), breast cancer (800 deaths), and liver and bile duct cancer (680 deaths) were the top five cancers in Cook County that year.

Why Are Cancer Rates So High in Cook County?

The higher cancer rates in Cook County as compared to other counties in Illinois and the country could be due to several variables. These include:

Issues With Healthcare

Many people in Cook County do not have health insurance or have insufficient coverage, which makes it hard for them to get the treatment they need, including for cancer. Oncologists and primary care physicians are in insufficient supply, which further complicates cancer treatment and preventive initiatives.

Socioeconomic Factors

Cook County has high rates of poverty and income inequality, which reduces the availability of healthcare and preventative services such as cancer screenings, diagnoses, and treatments. Varieties in health-related attitudes, practices, and propensities may be attributable, in part, to the county’s rich racial and ethnic diversity.

Rapid Urbanization

Chicago, located in Cook County, has a long history of industry and rapid urbanization, both of which can cause pollution and the release of carcinogens such as benzene, asbestos, radon, lead, and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons. Additionally, many individuals live near major highways or airports, increasing their exposure to traffic-related air and noise pollution.

Final Thoughts

Cook County’s cancer rates are much greater than the state and national averages. The environmental, lifestyle, socioeconomic, and healthcare factors that impact the risk and consequences of cancer for its population are the ones responsible for these discrepancies.

If we want to lessen the cancer burden in Cook County, we must address these variables together as a community, as researchers, as healthcare professionals, as government entities, and as people. Reducing the state-wide cancer burden and improving the health of Cook County citizens may be possible through the implementation of evidence-based strategies for cancer prevention, early detection, and treatment.

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