Joe Martin, executive director of the Pennsylvania Health Care Cost Containment Council, said geographic data often shows higher childhood cancer numbers in the urban centers, but with Greene County, it has been alarming.
Martin said it was “eye-opening” in the Greene County area, due to the small population.
There have been 55 hospitalizations in the county, according to last month’s PHC4 2019 report, and Martin said the numbers are alarming.
“It’s surprising we would see those kinds of numbers in a rural county,” Martin said.
Martin’s role is to strictly focus on the numbers, as well as, point out specific variations on data, but nothing further. Their information goes to county health officials and state officials for them to take the information and numbers to improve things.
The PHC4, an independent state agency, gives physicians a broader set of numbers, to help improve things and give them a clearer way to see the issue at-hand. Martin said with smaller counties, like Greene, the numbers can be easily influenced by the statistics.
“In more rural counties, small numbers can play a factor,” Martin said.
According to the American Childhood Cancer Organization, in the United States, 15,780 children between the ages of birth and 19-years-old are diagnosed with cancer. In addition to those statistics, their website also states that “approximately 1-in-285 children in the U.S. will be diagnosed with cancer before their 20th birthday.”
The PHC4 2019 report also reveals that Greene County has had the highest rate in Pennsylvania for three consecutive years. According to an article from The Herald Standard, Martin said releasing information now “helps raise awareness on how Pennsylvania children are affected by cancer. Examining cancer-related issues is always sobering, but particularly for this age group.”
To take action, it is important to raise awareness by showing statistics to find out how to prevent the rise in childhood cancer in the region.