(KCPW News) More people are surviving cancer in Utah, but new data released by the Utah Department of Health show cancer survivors are experiencing more chronic diseases than those without cancer. Utah Cancer Control Program Epidemiologist Meghan Balough says the data comes from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System Survey, which is part of a five-year plan to combat cancer in Utah.
“By knowing that they have a higher burden of chronic diseases as well as quality of life issues, like they are more likely to be smokers, we can actually tailor our programs to assess their needs and do something about it,” she explains.
The survey, done by the Utah Department of Health and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, tracked cancer survivor treatment and health insurance coverage, as well as their health behaviors and quality of life. Balough says the data collected found that more cancer survivors suffer from diseases like asthma and hypertension than those without cancer, and says this information will be used to develop programs that better meet the needs of Utah’s cancer survivors.
“This data is going to provide us with a base line, so that from here on out we can really focus on future health promotion programs that will better fit those needs that cancer survivors in Utah have,” she says.
There were an estimated 68,170 cancer survivors in Utah at the beginning of 2009, up nearly 10 percent from just over 62,000 in 2007.