A first-ever report from the American Cancer Society details the toll that cancer takes on the residents of New Jersey, county by county. ‘The Cancer Burden in New Jersey’ shows the difference in cancer rates in South Jersey vs. North Jersey. The higher cancer incidence in South Jersey is attributed mainly due to a higher prevalence of smoking among residents. A top recommendation includes increased funding for the state’s anti-tobacco program.

“Our analysis shows a ‘tale of two states,’” says Blair Horner, Vice President for Advocacy, American Cancer Society of NY & NJ.  “Downstaters face higher cancer rates than upstaters. Generally speaking, men in downstate counties are more likely to have higher than average lung cancer rates, the largest cancer killer. We also know that downstaters also tend to have higher smoking rates than those living upstate. We hope that this report will jump start a statewide discussion on how to reduce cancer incidence, identify cancers earlier, and to assist those in treatment.”

Key findings in the report include; almost 50,000 New Jerseyans were diagnosed with cancer in 2011 and more than 16,000 died from the disease; prostate cancer is New Jersey’s most common cancer; and lung cancer is the largest cancer killer causing more than 4,100 deaths last year.

Recommendations include; creating policies and laws that prevent cancer such as adequately supporting anti-smoking programs; enhancing early detection; and easing the financial burden that comes with cancer treatments by ensuring that all New Jerseyans have access to quality, affordable health insurance.

The entire report with the county-by-county breakdown can be found at acscan.org/nj. Horner says because of differences in population and average ages in the counties, comparing your county to another is really not applicable, but you can compare your county to itself.