Cancer rates high in Central Illinois

Local News

MACON AND DEWITT COUNTIES, Ill. (WCIA) — Cancer is something which affects everyone. If you haven’t had a scare, the chances of you knowing someone with cancer are pretty high.

The rates of people being diagnosed in certain parts of Central Illinois are pretty high, too.

You might think of a city like Chicago when you talk about high rates of anything, but when it comes to cancer rates, Central Illinois has some of the highest. 

“I was surprised,” Paul Skowron, Warner Hospital CEO, said. “I thought about the agrarian nature of this community, but I didn’t think that we would stand out that predominantly.”

He said when he saw the report from the Centers for Disease Control, it just showed him he needed to keep striving to keep the community educated.

“We need to do this, not in a reactive fashion, but in a proactive fashion,” he said.

DeWitt County is second in the state when it comes to cancer diagnoses. The CDC report states for every 100,000 people, 545 are diagnosed in DeWitt. Macon County isn’t far behind with 543. That’s about 100 more than the national average.

“We’re seeing more lung, so then you have to wonder why is this happening, so it raises more questions than answers,” Dr. Renata Moore, St. Mary’s radiation oncologist, said.

She added there’s no clear-cut answer at this point.

“With further time, we will be able to see whether or not those numbers start to normalize or whether or not there’s something else going on that we need to take a closer look at,” Dr. Moore said.

Both she and Skowron agree, though. It’s all about prevention.

“Patients, I think, are more willing to have the conversation and go for those tests,” Dr. Moore said. “The tests are becoming more affordable. There are more resources for obtaining them, so that’s a big difference, too.”

That’s why she said you shouldn’t let this worry you too much.

“This is just a snapshot in time,” she concluded.

Many might be curious if factories in the area have anything to do with these numbers. 

Dr. Moore said there’s no data showing any link between the two or that this part of Central Illinois has any different exposure than any other part of the state or even the Midwest for that matter.

Warner Hospital is hosting a cancer screening event. To take part, just go to the main entrance of the hospital October 1.

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