Study finds higher cancer rates in some Suffolk communities

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The state is launching a new study after an increased number of cancer cases has been found in several Suffolk County communities.

On Christmas Eve 2012, doctors told Rachel Klein, of Centereach, that she had a form of cancer known as chronic myeloid leukemia. Klein says she has no idea how she got cancer because there are no instances in her family history -- and she's not alone.

According to the state Department of Health, more than 18,000 cancer cases a year occurred on average on Long Island from 2011 through 2015. A special cancer study launched by Gov. Andrew Cuomo found that Centereach, Farmingville and Selden have statistically significant rates of leukemia, bladder, lung and thyroid cancers.

Researchers are examining information such as demographic, socioeconomic and environmental factors in those areas to find out what's contributing to the high cancer rates. Dr. Priscilla Goncalvez, an oncologist, says the study will help with cancer treatment and prevention.

"I think it's extremely important if it's followed by specific guidelines and resources for patients diagnosed to get treatment," she told News 12 over the phone.

State health officials will be holding a series of meetings to discuss the research and get public input. The one on Long Island will be held July 17 at the Hilton Garden Inn in Stony Brook at 7 p.m.

Klein says she hopes those answers will help her beat cancer and others from getting it in the first place.

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