COOS COUNTY – Coos County ranks No. 1 for having the highest number of bladder cancer patients in Oregon.

The Oregonian reported numbers from the Center of Disease Control and Prevention, showing the top 10 cancers across the state. Not only did Coos County rank high in bladder cancer, but number two for colon, rectum, lung and bronchus cancers.

According to the CDC, Oregon sees an average of 20,046 people diagnosed with cancer every year.

Of those patients, 7,787 die.

“That’s 433 cases, or 167.3 deaths per 100,000 people,” The Oregonian reported.

For bladder cancer, Coos County sees 29.1 cases per 100,000 people get diagnosed. For colon and rectum cancer, Wasco County ranked number one at 75.5 cases per 100,000 while Coos County followed close behind at 75.2 cases per 100,000.

Lung and bronchus cancer saw Wasco County also rank the highest at the same percentage, followed by Coos County at 75.2 cases per 100,000.

Though these numbers are high, they still aren’t as high as prostate cancer rates, where Coos County showed 101.9 cases per  100,000 of patients, or breast cancer rates, where Coos County showed 125.30 cases.

“Prostate and breast cancer are the most common cancers in Oregon because at they are the most common cancers at the national level,” said Dr. Mark Henderson, radiation oncologist at the Bay Area Cancer Center. “They are right up there with lung cancer.”

As for Coos County coming in first for the amount of bladder cancer patients, Henderson referenced smoking rates and that the two go hand-in-hand.

“If you cross reference smoking rates, our county is near the top of the list in the state and both lung and bladder cancers are smoke-related,” he said. “If we want to cut down on the rates of those cancers, we need to get people to stop smoking and make sure kids don’t start smoking. Those are two things that are always high in the minds of medical professionals because they are easy ways to prevent lots of diseases, several being cancerous.”

Meanwhile, colon and rectum cancer can be contributed to by a high fat diet, but Henderson doesn’t believe that alone can be pointed to for Coos County’s high rate.

“The potential solution to reduce the rates includes increasing patient awareness of the need for colon and rectum cancer screening,” he said, advising that anyone over 50 should be getting colonoscopies or talk with their physicians to see if there are alternative screening methods.

“Polyps can be caught very early,” he said. “We have very good screenings for colon cancer, which starts with small polyps. If you catch them as small bumps, you can take them off with a scope and they are done before turning into cancer, but left alone long enough can become a problem.”

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, ideal for spreading information to women about how to watch out for early signs of the disease. Henderson issued a reminder for women to begin looking for signs by paying attention to their own bodies.

“If there is something new or bothering you, or if it seems suspicious, it is reasonable to see a physician and talk about it,” he said. “The correct time for mammograms is not universally agreed upon, but sometime between 40 and 50 years old is when women should think about starting to have screenings.”

He added that it’s important to take into account family history, that if a woman has many close relatives with a breast cancer diagnoses, they should think about getting early screening and keep up with regular exams.

“Breast cancer is very common and the risk factors include genetics, some exposure to estrogen through things like birth control or hormone replacement therapy,” Henderson said. “The most important thing is to have a good relationship with your primary care physician so they understand your risk factors to recommend the right time to start screening.”

For prostate cancer, Henderson said there are genetic risk factors as well. His advice for men is the same for women, which is to look for new changes in the body and keep up on exams.

“The good news is that there are some advances in cancer treatment,” Henderson said. “For radiation treatment, it has become better designed to target and deliver precise radiation.”

Reporter Jillian Ward can be reached at 541-269-1222, ext. 235, or by email at jillian.ward@theworldlink.com. Follow her on Twitter: @JE_Wardwriter.

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