Report shows Ariz. has lowest cancer rate in nation

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PHOENIX - The National Cancer Institute and the Centers for Disease Control released a report showing Arizona's cancer incidence rates are the lowest in the nation.

The report from the United State Cancer Institute compared the rates of cancer across 49 states, six metro areas and the  District of Columbia. Arizona ranks 50th and 49th in key categories of the report.

"This is a case where being last, means you are doing well," said Wayne Tormala, Chief, Arizona Department of Health Services Bureau of Tobacco and Chronic Disease. "Being 50th means our rates are the lowest."

According to their results, Arizona has the lowest incidence of all cancers combined among men and women, the lowest among men and the second lowest rate among women.

It is not all good news for Arizona though. According to the Arizona Cancer Registry, more people in Arizona are diagnosed with cancer at later stages.

This means that Arizonans need to pay more attention to early detection and screening.

Although Arizona's ranking is impressive the fact that residents are not getting early detection and screening means that those who are diagnosed are going to have a tougher time battling the disease.

While half of breast cancers are discovered early enough for treatment to be effective, for one in every two women in Arizona, the diagnosis will be at a later state, meaning in 2011 more than 1,000 women will die when their breast cancer is discovered too late.

"Next to prevention and intervention, well-founded data is critical first step in addressing cancer in our state, " said Tormala. "We are currently discussing with cancer experts nationally and from throughout our state how to address the challenge of increasing early detection and disease management."

The Arizona Department of Health wants to hear from people through a survey on their website. The link will be open until April 29.

The public can comment on what can be done about early detection and screening in Arizona.

The comments will then help to develop initiatives for the Arizona Cancer Control Plan and also will be used to obtain grant money to support those initiatives through the Arizona Cancer Control Coalition.