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July 21, 2002
Why is Collins Center Dying?
"Take care of your body with steadfast fidelity. The soul must see through these eyes alone, and if they are dim, the whole world is clouded."

-- - Goethe

Continued from Front Page:
Why is Collins Center Dying
Part II

Although maps have been map concerning the cancer incidences, they are not specifically plotted on any map, New York State is hindered by law, from allowing  individual information to become public. 

According to the Cancer Surveillance Improvement Initiative, the maps show two things;  whether the cancer incidence per zip code  is higher, lower or about the same as expected, and  “areas of elevated incidence.”  Elevated incidence areas show an extremely higher than expected cancer rate, which may indicate that the occurrence could be due to carcinogen (a cancer causing agent) exposure. 

According to the Cancer Surveillance Improvement Initiative; some zip code areas were either "too small to appear on the map or had too few cases to be shown for confidentiality reasons." Therefore these zip code areas were combined with neighboring areas.  Such is the case with Collins Center, zip code 14035 and Helmuth 14079, both were lumped in with Collins 14034. 

As noted in last week's article, Collins Center is a tiny hamlet located in the middle of the Town of Collins. It is approximately 2 1/2 miles long and 1 1/2 mile wide, there are approximately 125 homes and 500 residents. Helmuth was not previously mentioned, Helmuth is the mailing address for what was once Gowanda Psychiatric Center and what now is the HUB of Collins Correctional Facility I, Collins Correctional Facility II and Gowanda Correctional Facility. The patients from the psychiatric center have been mobilized, some placed in private housing establishments, or apartments of their own, some resituated to Buffalo or Rochester Psychiatric Center, the statistics of these persons will fall into another zip code range. The inmate population in New York State is also an extremely mobile community. Inmates are moved from facility to facility, or released  and sent back to their former hometown location, any of these statistics will also be lost to the local cancer count. 

According to Cancer Surveillance Improvement Initiative; "Cancer is more than 100 different diseases. It is caused by the abnormal growth of cells in the body. The body is made up of billions of cells. These cells reproduce by dividing. Through this process the body grows and repairs itself. Sometimes, a cell begins dividing abnormally and tumors form. Tumors may be benign (an unusual growth of cells that is not cancer. It cannot spread to other parts of the body) or malignant  (a cancerous tumor. It has the ability to spread to other parts of the body.) Malignant tumors (cancers), can spread to other tissues or organs nearby or to other parts of the body. This is called metastasis. Cancers grow at different speeds. Some grow very quickly; others may grow slowly over a period of many years."

"Some cancers are easily cured, others are more difficult to treat. This depends largely on the place in the body where the cancer cells grow, how large the tumor is when it is first found, and if it has spread. Doctors usually consider tumors that start in different parts of the body (not those that spread, but new tumors) to be different diseases. Generally, each type of cancer has its own symptoms, outlook for cure, and methods of treatment."

The Cancer Surveillance Improvement Initiative also indicates that; "Cancers develop slowly in people. They usually appear five to 40 years after exposure to a carcinogen." With today's society being extremely mobile, the cancers of Collin - Collins Center are being detected everywhere else. 

Lung Cancer Statistics for Collins 14034: 1993-1997, Females: 4 cases have been detected, 3.3 were expected, but very sparse data has been collected from this area concerning lung cancer in females; males: 8 cases reported, 4.8 cases expected.. Breast cancer: 1993 - 1997, females: 6 cases reported, 7.3 cases expected. 1993 - 1997 Males: colorectal cancer; 7 cases reported, 3.6 expected, females: 4 cases reported,  3.4 cases expected, again it is indicated that very sparse information exists for colorectal cancer in females from the area. Prostate cancer 1993 - 1997; 7 cases reported, 7.8 cases expected. 

Out of the four types of cancer reported upon in this survey, two types in women lung and colorectal had sparse or insufficient data collected. Despite the sparse data females within the area the incidence rate is already 50 - 100% higher than expected. Woman also fall in the 15 - 50% below breast cancer expectancy. While males fall into a 50-100% higher rate for expected lung cancer, and colorectal cancer. The area fell within 15% of expected rate of prostrate cancer. 

The question is, how does the area fare when it comes to other forms of cancer, and since cancer develops from 5 to 30 years after exposure, how many people met the carcinogens in this area, moved away and now suffer from cancer? More importantly, what would the carcinogen be?  For years the explosion/crash of Canteen 61 has been tossed back and forth as a possible cause, last week, Issues indicated that the only industry in the area had been a milk processing plant, could that be the source of the cancer rate or are we at risk because of something far simpler, such as our water supply?

Issues will continue to access this problem, while attempting to locate former residents to complete our study. Please readers, if you know of anyone who lived in or lives in this area and has been or is being treated for cancer, have them contact Issues immediately.

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Page Last Updated: 7/21/2002
C 2002 L Munro