Exploring geographic variation in lung cancer incidence in kentucky using a spatial scan statistic: Elevated risk in the appalachian coal-mining region

W. Jay Christian, Bin Huang, John Rinehart, Claudia Hopenhayn

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

52 Scopus citations

Abstract

Objectives. We examined geographic patterns of lung cancer incidence in Kentucky. Recent research has suggested that the coal-mining industry contributes to lung cancer risk in Appalachia. We focused on the southeastern portion of the state, which has some of the highest lung cancer rates in the nation. Methods. We implemented a spatial scan statistic to identify areas with lung cancer incidence rates that were higher than expected, after adjusting for age, gender, and smoking. The Kentucky Cancer Registry supplied information on cases (1995-2007). The U.S. Census (2000) and several years of Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System data (1996-2006) provided county-level population and smoking data. We compared the results with coal-mining data from the Mining Safety and Health Administration and public water utility data from the Kentucky Division of Water. Results. We identified three clusters of counties with higher-than-expected rates. Cluster 1 (relative risk [RR] 5 1.21, p<0.01) included 12 counties in southeastern Kentucky. Cluster 2 (RR51.17, p<0.01) included three nearby counties in the same region. Several of the 15 counties in Cluster 3 (RR51.04, p50.01) were part of the Louisville, Kentucky, or Cincinnati, Ohio, metropolitan areas. All of the counties in Clusters 1 and 2 produced significant amounts of coal. Conclusion. Environmental exposures related to the coal-mining industry could contribute to the high incidence of lung cancer in southeastern Kentucky. Lack of evidence for this effect in western Kentucky could be due to regional differences in mining practices and access to public water utilities. Future research should collect biological specimens and environmental samples to test for the presence of trace elements and other lung carcinogens.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)789-796
Number of pages8
JournalPublic Health Reports
Volume126
Issue number6
DOIs
StatePublished - 2011

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health

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