Cancer is a group of diseases in which once normal cells in the body become abnormal and retain the ability to grow out of control. Cancer is not just one disease but many different diseases, with more than 100 different types. Cancer is one of the most common chronic diseases in the United States and is on the verge of becoming the number one cause of death in Iowa.
There are many types of cancer, each named by the part of the body where the abnormal cell growth has begun, regardless of whether the cancer has spread to other parts of the body. Different types of cancer behave very differently. They grow and spread at different rates and respond to different treatments.
The Tracking Network is making cancer incidence data easier to access and use. While cancer incidence data are available on several websites, integrating the information with other health outcome data or environmental data is difficult. Tracking can add to existing public health surveillance of cancer by examining potential ecological relationships with environmental exposures.
However, the cancer data do have significant limitations. For example:
- Counts and rates will be calculated based on residence at time of diagnosis. No information is available on previous residences.
- Geocoding accuracy, level, and completeness may vary by time and space. This could create geographically non-random errors in calculated rates of cancer.
- No personal information, including smoking history, diet, lifestyle, or history of cancer, will be available for individual cancer cases.
- Data that would reveal the identity of any person diagnosed with cancer cannot be released. Suppression rules will govern the release of small case counts.
- No information will be available on the latency of cancer cases.