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Dismal Outlook on VA's Projected Cancer Rates

Prior to 2012, cardiovascular disease was the leading cause of death in Virginia, but now cancer is the Commonwealth's leading killer.

To help lawmakers craft state policies for the future, the Joint Commission on Health Care wanted to find out what the projected cancer rates will be over the next few decades.

UVa’s Weldon Cooper Center for Public Service compiled the data. Delegate and Doctor John O'Bannon describes the bottom line.

"I think their message is that there is a real probability as the population ages, that there will be an epidemic of cancer."

The number of new cancer cases through this decade alone is expected to increase by 26 percent. O’Bannon says this data could be very helpful.

"Is there an area where a certain type of cancer is more prevalent for an environmental reason or some other reason--and that was what would be really, really helpful if we can ever get to the point where we can do that."

The data do suggest that breast, prostate, and lung and bronchus cancers will be most dominant.  O'Bannon says healthcare policymakers will proactively address this--but will need more detailed demographic information.

Tommie McNeil is a State Capitol reporter who has been covering Virginia and Virginia politics for more than a decade. He originally hails from Maryland, and also doubles as the evening anchor for 1140 WRVA in Richmond.
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