Epidemiologic Studies

Illinois State Cancer Registry

Concerns about cancer clusters

Concerns about the incidence of cancer in a community are not uncommon. Unfortunately cancer is a common disease, sometimes more common than many people believe. At the present time the National Cancer Institute estimates that in the United States, one in two men have a lifetime risk of developing cancer. For women, the lifetime risk is one in three.The number of people with cancer is increasing in most communities because more and more people are living to an age of greatest cancer occurrence. It would not be unusual to find numerous cases of cancer in one small area, even more than one cancer in the same household.

It is a common perception that cancer is a single disease. In fact, cancer is actually many different diseases, each with differing rates of occurrence, risks, causes, and chances of survival. Additionally, there is a latency period (time from exposure to disease) of 10-20 years for most adult cancers and the majority of cancers are related to lifestyle factors such as smoking, alcohol use, diet, obesity and lack of physical activity.

As defined by the National Cancer Institute, a cancer cluster most likely involves a large number of cases of the same type of cancer, rather than several different types; a rare kind of cancer, rather than common types; or a number of a certain type of cancer cases in age groups not usually affected by that type of cancer. These situations are likely to indicate a common source or mechanism of carcinogenesis (the process by which cancer develops). The occurrence of several types of cancer in a group of people or a geographic area generally does not constitute a cancer cluster.

There is no study the Department can do that will show what caused cancer among residents in a community. No one study is likely to prove that a particular exposure definitely causes a particular disease. No single study nor even a large number of epidemiological studies will enable a person to know why he or she developed cancer.

Fortunately, many types of cancer can be prevented, and the prospects for surviving cancer are better than ever before and continue to improve. Early detection and improved treatments are allowing more people who have been diagnosed with cancer to live longer and better. By adopting a healthier lifestyle and visiting a physician regularly for a cancer-related checkup, many people could reduce their chances of developing or dying from cancer.

Illinois Specific Statistics

Data from the Illinois State Cancer Registry

Public Use Data Files

The Illinois public dataset is in ASCII format and contains sanitized individual records of cancer incidence among Illinois residents. Separate files are available for the state, county, and ZIP code areas. Confidentiality is maintained by aggregating data within individual records into categories, the number of which depend on the size of the geographic area.

Other Cancer Reports

Selected topics of public health interest regarding cancer in Illinois

Other Links

Illinois Comprehensive Cancer Control State Plan: 2005-2010 - Executive Summary

Illinois Comprehensive Cancer Control State Plan: 2005-2010

State Cancer Profile


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