Advocacy Group Gives State's Cancer Tracking System a 'D'

September 29, 2003
by Sameh Fahmy
The Tennessean

Tennessee's system for tracking cancer cases lags behind the rest of the nation's, a new report charges, causing the state to miss opportunities to better understand and ultimately better prevent the killer disease. Tennessee was among three states that received a ''D'' in the Trust for America's Health report on improving cancer tracking. Mississippi was the one state that received an ''F.'' Tennessee's cancer registry is in its infancy compared with other states. It implemented an enhanced cancer registry to spot trends and patterns in cancer cases last year, but the registry doesn't effectively compare cancer rates with environmental and demographic data, said Shelley Hearne, executive director of the Washington-based health advocacy group. Properly linking information would allow the state to better target its cancer prevention efforts to at-risk populations and help determine the causes of clusters of cancer cases that might have a common environmental source. ''That's really the key thing and the key point of this report,'' she said. ''You can't just gather this information; you've got to plug it in and use it.''

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