State Health Commissioner Novello and Suffolk County Executive Levy Announce Public Meeting to Update Community on Breast Cancer Follow-Up Investigation

Coram, Mt. Sinai, Port Jefferson Station Investigation Open House to be held June 29th

ALBANY, June 22, 2004 — The State Health Department and the Suffolk County Executive's Office today announced an Open House will be held on Tuesday, June 29th at Ward Melville High School, 380 Old Town Road, East Setauket. The community is invited to stop in anytime from 2:30 PM through 8:30 PM to find out about the progress of the Coram, Mt. Sinai, Port Jefferson Station Breast Cancer follow-up investigation, also known as the CMP Investigation. State Health Department epidemiologists, toxicologists, and environmental scientists will answer questions about the study and discuss the investigation of higher than expected breast cancer incidence in a seven ZIP Code area in Suffolk County.

The CMP investigation is part of the State's Cancer Surveillance Improvement Initiative (CSII) also known as the Cancer Mapping Project. At the direction of Governor Pataki, the Initiative was created in 1998 to answer questions about cancer rates in various parts of the State and to increase public awareness of cancer risk factors, early detection and prevention.

The CMP investigation is a follow-up study undertaken by the Department exploring the elevated incidence of breast cancer in Coram, Mt. Sinai and Port Jefferson Station based on cancer maps that showed higher than expected breast cancer incidence in the area. The investigation focuses on identifying factors that might be related to why breast cancer incidence was elevated in these communities between 1993 and 1997 compared to other parts of New York State.

"The new research protocol established as part of the CSII and used for the CMP investigation may help to advance cancer research," said State Health Commissioner Antonia C. Novello, M.D., M.P.H., Dr.P.H. "And although science still cannot answer all of our questions about cancer, we feel this investigation in particular may help us identify approaches that we hope will some day help us solve these and other public health puzzles."

Suffolk County Executive Steve Levy said, "State and County scientists have been working on this critical project since 1998 to try to identify why the CMP communities have such higher than expected cancer rates. I strongly urge members of the public to come to this open house to hear firsthand about the information gleaned this far.

"I am hopeful that these efforts will lead to research advancements to address possible linkages between local factors and incidences of cancer not only for the communities of the study area but for the entire Long Island region."

A Working Draft Integration Report has been prepared that documents all research to date and provides some preliminary conclusions. The approximately 200 page report is a technical overview that reflects the considerable research and efforts of numerous State Health Department scientists over the last two years. The fact sheets that will be distributed to the public at the Open House reflect the findings of this draft report. A final Integration Report is expected within a year.

The Coram, Mt. Sinai, Port Jefferson Station area of Suffolk County was selected for investigation based on data from the breast cancer map—the first ZIP Code map to be issued. This area was well defined, limited geographically, and the only area on the map with a 50 percent higher than expected breast cancer rate. The follow-up investigation has focused on seven ZIP Codes: 11727, Coram; 11733, East Setauket; 11764, Miller Place; 11766, Mt. Sinai; 11776, Port Jefferson Station; 11777, Port Jefferson; and 11789, Sound Beach.

The Open House is a follow-up to the June 2002 public meeting when 650 residents participated in a public information session at the Comsewogue Public Library in Port Jefferson Station. At that meeting, the Department answered questions, explained the details of the investigation, solicited input from the community about their issues of environmental concern and provided information about locally-available cancer services.

Open House Information for Residents

Residents are encouraged to come at any time between 2:30 P.M. and 8:30 P.M. Those who have questions about attending the Open House, or who have special needs, may call 1-800-458-1158, ext. 27530. The Open House will consist of an on-going orientation and a self-guided tour of information stations. People who cannot attend but would like to share issues of specific concern may also call this toll-free number or send an e-mail to ceheduc@health.state.ny.us Information about cancer mapping is available on the State Health Department's website at www.health.state.ny.us.

Open House Information for the Media

The Department will offer a walk-through and availability for media only at the Open House site from 12:30 P.M. to 1:30 P.M. Reporters and media personnel must present valid media identification to gain access. DOH program staff will be available exclusively to media during this time to walk through the information stations that will be established for the public, and to answer questions. Media is also welcome to attend the Open House during the public hours of 2:30 P.M. to 8:30 P.M. However, DOH staff will be engaged with the public during these hours and will not be available for media interviews.