Health Dept. finds cancer rates high in Centereach, Farmingville & Selden

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The state Health Department met with Suffolk officials and residents in Stony Brook Tuesday night over concerns of high rates of cancer in three nearby communities.

Brad Hutton, the state's deputy commissioner for public health, says the department has discovered higher rates of four types of cancer in Centereach, Farmingville and Selden. An investigation into the cause kicked off Tuesday.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo had launched the special study, which found the rates of leukemia, lung, thyroid and bladder cancer are 40 to 60 percent higher in those neighborhoods. According to Hutton, the different cancers have varying causes.

Hutton says he met with Long Island elected officials and doctors Tuesday to discuss the findings. He says experts are looking at smoking rates in those communities, as well as environmental and occupational data "to see the extent to which there are exposure sources…that could help explain those higher rates."

Dr. Yusuf Hannun, the director of the Stony Brook Cancer Center, says the state's findings are a call to action, if not cause for alarm.

"It's cause for A, vigilance," he says. "Be aware, stay up with what's going on...And B, let's put a larger effort into research, identifying the causes of cancer and preventing them."

Residents like Carol Montegari say they want to get to the bottom of the issue too.

"I live in Centereach," she says. "And I wanted to find out what the cause is and if it's related to the town."

State health officials say further investigation will take the rest of the year.

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