Public Health Department
80 State Highway 310, Suite #2
Canton, New York 13617-1476

Public Health Director
Dana Olzenak McGuire, PT, PhD

Ph: (315) 386-2325
Fx: (315) 386-2203

Office Hours:
Monday - Friday
9:00am - 5:00pm


This is no longer a program within Public Health,

however feel free to review the materials.



St. Lawrence County Public Health Department
Cancer Information


Cancer Data Available From New York State Department of Health

The New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH) started the Cancer Surveillance Improvement Initiative to improve access for residents to information about the rates of various types of cancers in communities throughout New York State.

In the initial phase of this project, county-level maps covering eleven types (anatomic sites) of cancer were developed as follows:

  • Bladder Cancer; Brain & Nervous System Cancer; Breast Cancer;
  • Colon & Rectum Cancer; Kidney & Renal Pelvis Cancer; Leukemia;
  • Liver & Intrahepatic Bile Duct Cancer; Lung Cancer; Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma; Prostate Cancer; Thyroid Cancer.

Recently, the second phase of this project started with the release of the first sub-county cancer maps based on zip code-level data. These initial maps concern the incidence of breast cancer in women. Additional zip code-level maps are under development for release in the coming months.

The third phase of this project is to provide information on risk factors (i.e.- lifestyle, medical history, environment) that may increase an individual's chances of developing cancer.

You can access this information via the internet at the following address:

Frequently Asked Questions About Cancer

What is cancer?

Cancer is not a single disease, but more than 100 different diseases. It is characterized 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 or malignant. 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.

What causes cancer?

No one knows for sure why a normal cell becomes a cancer cell. Many causes of cancer have been identified. Sometimes there is a family history of cancer. Scientists agree that people can get cancer through repeated long-term contact with carcinogens. These include tobacco, sunlight, X-rays, and certain chemicals that may be found in the air, water, food, drugs and workplace. Our personal habits and lifestyle may contribute to most cancers. It is believed that about 30% of cancer deaths are due to tobacco. Some cancer risk may be related to diet.

How soon after exposure to a carcinogen does the cancer appear?

Cancers develop slowly in people. They usually appear five to 40 years after exposure to a carcinogen. For example, cancer of the lung may not occur until 30 years after a person starts smoking. This long latency period is one of the reasons it is difficult to determine what causes cancer in humans.

Who gets cancer?

Cancer is a very common disease. One in three people will be diagnosed with cancer at some time in their life. Eventually, cancer occurs in three out of every four families. In New York, nearly one in four deaths is due to cancer.

Cancer occurs at all ages, but most often in middle-aged and older people. The number of people diagnosed with cancer has increased over the past 40 years. Most of this is due to the increase in the population and because people are living longer.

The most common cancers diagnosed among men, besides skin, are prostate, lung and colon. Among women, they are cancers of the breast, lung and colon.


  • Benign Tumor - An unusual growth of cells that is not cancer. It cannot spread to other parts of the body.
  • Malignant Tumor - A cancerous tumor. It has the ability to spread to other parts of the body.
  • Metastasis - Cancer that has spread to another part of the body.
  • Carcinogen - Something that causes cancer, also known as a cancer causing agent.
  • Latency - The time between exposure to a cancer causing agent and when a person develops cancer.

Tips for Lowering Cancer Risk

  • Stop smoking or using tobacco of any kind.
  • Get regular health check-ups.
  • Eat high-fiber, vitamin rich foods each day (fruits, vegetables, whole grain bread and cereal).
  • Eat foods low in fat (lean meat and low-fat dairy products).
  • Exercise regularly.
  • Drink alcoholic beverages only in moderation.
  • Avoid unnecessary X-rays.
  • Avoid too much sunlight; wear protective clothing and use sunscreen.
  • Discuss the risk of hormone replacement therapy with your doctor.
  • Be aware of health and safety rules at work and follow them.


Cancer Awareness

Cancer, the second leading cause of death among Americans, is responsible for one of every four deaths in the United States. In 2005, more than 560,000 Americans - or more than 1,500 people a day - will die of cancer. More than 18 million new cases of cancer have been diagnosed since 1990, and about 1.4 million new cases will be diagnosed in 2005 alone. This estimate does not include preinvasive cancer or the more than 1 million cases of nonmelanoma skin cancer expected to be diagnosed this year.

The number of new cancer cases can be reduced substantially, and many cancer deaths can be prevented. Adopting healthier lifestyles—for example, avoiding tobacco use, increasing physical activity, achieving optimal weight, improving nutrition, and avoiding sun exposure—can significantly reduce a person’s risk for cancer. Making cancer screening, information, and referral services available and accessible to all Americans is also essential for reducing the high rates of cancer and cancer deaths.

Source: Cancer Facts & Figures 2004, American Cancer Society, 2004

Only a few decades ago, many people thought that there was little that they could do to protect themselves against cancer. In recent years, however, scientists have taken a closer look at cancer. They've learned more about how the disease develops and what biological and environmental factors increase cancer risk.

Based on this groundbreaking research, we now have better weapons for fighting the disease: more options for diagnosis and treatment, improved therapies and new technologies for early detection. Perhaps most importantly, we also now know that people can take steps to protect themselves against cancer.

All people can lower their overall cancer risk by NOT Smoking or using Tobacco products, being active and eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables. What you eat and drink, how you live, where you work . . . all these factors can affect your risk for cancer. But, in addition to regular exercise and healthy eating, there are other ways that you could protect yourself against cancer, based on your age, gender and family history of the disease.

Links to website Cancer Information

Air Defenders
Air Defenders is an educational resource about open burning, air quality and asthma.The Wisconsin Department of Environmental Resources designed it for use with 4th and 5th grades.

National Cancer Institute

American Cancer Society

American Lung Association

Cancer Research and Prevention Foundation

New York State Department of Health

NYS Cancer Mapping

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County Courthouse, 48 Court Street • Canton, New York 13617 - 1169
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