City Health Department Funds Lung Cancer Program With Columbias Mailman School Of Public Health And Hospitals On Staten Island

July 12th Media Conference Announces Program Goals


New York, NY -- The New York City Department of Health has awarded the Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia University a $695,000 contract to conduct a Cancer Research, Health Promotion and Risk Reduction Campaign to identify reasons behind the high rate of lung cancer among Staten Island residents and develop a broad based educational campaign to help reduce this rate. Details of the three-year landmark program are being unveiled today (Thursday, July 12, 1 p.m.) at a media conference held at Staten Island's Borough Hall and attended by Neal Cohen, M.D., New York City Commissioner of Health, Borough President Guy V. Molinari, and program participants from Columbia University's Mailman School, and the borough's two hospitals. This campaign is being conducted by the Department of Epidemiology of the Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia, in association with Staten Island's major health care providers, St. Vincent's Hospital, part of Saint Vincent Catholic Medical Centers, and Staten Island University Hospital. State Cancer Registry data indicate that the incidence rate of lung cancer on Staten Island is higher than in the rest of New York City and neighboring New Jersey counties. No epidemiological study for lung cancer on Staten Island has ever been published. The investigators will conduct a thorough analysis of exposures and outcomes at the individual level to respond to community concerns about the health effects of industrial air pollution from neighboring New Jersey and the recently closed land-fill at Fresh Kills. The program's objectives are risk identification and reduction. The first step will be a telephone survey of a random sampling of approximately 500 to 650 adult Staten Islanders and another 500 to 650 residents of the Bay Ridge area. The survey will focus on health-related behavior and other risk factors, including tobacco use, alcohol and drug use, diet, level of physical activity, medical history, family history, occupation, site of residence, and known exposure to chemicals. The Bay Ridge area is also being studied because its population is demographically similar to that of Staten Island, although its lung cancer rate is much lower. Participation will be encouraged through media announcements and through collaboration with local community organizations such as the Staten Island Chapter of the American Cancer Society, The Staten Island Citizens for Clean Air, and the Staten Island Partnership for Community Wellness, a consortium of over 50 organizations. Additional data will be solicited through six focus groups to be conducted at strategic locations across the Island, and through discussions with community organizations, including the three local community boards, and the State and City Departments of Health. A Staten Island Cancer Program Advisory Committee comprised of health care professionals, researchers, and community leaders will provide guidance to program staff and assist in reaching the community, especially in the development of the program's second component, a multifaceted Health Promotion/Cancer Risk Reduction Campaign. The Committee members include representatives of the Staten Island Chapter of the American Cancer Society, Staten Island Citizens for Clean Air, the Staten Island Chamber of Commerce, the College of Staten Island, the three local community boards, and other organizations as well as individuals with specific relevant expertise. The health promotion campaign will feature community presentations on risk reduction; continuing education programs for physicians and health care professionals; programs in schools; and a newspaper, cable and mass transit advertising campaign. The centerpiece of the study will be an assessment of lung cancer risk factors in both lung cancer patients and patients having outpatient procedures not related to cancer or tobacco use at St. Vincent's or Staten Island University Hospital. Data will be obtained from interviews, blood and urine specimens, and medical records. Representing Columbia's Mailman School of Public Health in this program are principal investigator Judith S. Jacobson, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Epidemiology, co-principal investigator Alfred I. Neugut, M.D., Ph.D., Professor of Medicine and Epidemiology, and co-investigator Sherri Sheinfeld Gorin, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Epidemiology and Sociomedical Sciences. Co-investigators from St. Vincent's, Staten Island, are Thomas Forlenza, M.D., Director of Oncology; Richard Pearlman, M.D., Chairman of Psychiatry; and Sheldon Blackman, Ph.D., Vice President for Program Development. Co-investigators representing Staten Island University Hospital are Frank Forte, M.D., medical director of the Nalitt Institute for Cancer and Blood-Related Diseases; Roberta Hayes, Ph.D., who directs the Cancer Immunotherapy Program, and Kathleen Ahern, R.N., Ph.D., both of whom are researchers at the Ocean Breeze hospital.

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American Cancer Society, Mailman School, New Jersey, Staten Island