UPDATED: MN Dept. of Health Revises Fridley Cancer Rates Downward

State: Overall rate 7.6, not 10, percent; high lung cancer rate likely due to smoking.

UPDATED BELOW The Minnesota Department of Health has re-computed the rate of cancer in Fridley for the years 2000–2009, and in a news release said the city's rate was 7.6 percent, not .

See also separate post with more new data released Monday: "Health Dept. Releases 1990s Fridley Cancer Data"

The adjustment came with a correction to statewide cancer rates, according to the news release. Higher overall state rates meant Fridley's figures weren't as far out of line.

The new rate puts Fridley's incidence of cancer in a range that's "not unusual," according to MDH cancer epidemiologist John Soler:

It’s not unusual to find communities that have a rate of cancer five to 10 percent above expected and as many that are five to 10 percent below expected, especially when one of the main cancer types is well above or below average rates, Soler said.

Fridley's cancer rate "appears to be due largely to its high lung cancer rate," according to Soler. Lung cancer rates for the period were 30 percent higher than expected, and for women, 49 percent higher.

“While we don’t have data to tell us exactly what is causing lung cancer in the community, we do know that the primary cause of lung cancer in the United States is smoking,” Soler said. “We also know that Anoka County’s smoking rate is relatively high.”

Update (3 p.m. Monday): Doug Schultz, an MDH information officer equated the March estimates with a “rough draft” and Soler said the “minor changes” to the revised estimates took into account more precise street addresses—some people included in the initial estimate were found not to actually live in Fridley—and results from 2009 that are still being tabulated.

“When this thing went viral, we basically said we need to update the database,” Soler said. “Even these numbers will probably change a little.”

But Soler said the changes to the data were statistically minimal.

“The observed change very little,” he said. “The expected went up slightly, based on [a more accurate accounting] of all the cancers in Minnesota.”

The earlier MDH data brought attention to the group on Facebook, and led to interest from , who plans to .

Read the full news release by clicking the PDF thumbnail image above.

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Number of Incidents of Cancer in Fridley between 2000 and 2009
(Expected figures are based on state-wide averages.)

Type of cancer Observed (April) Expected (April) Observed (March) Expected (March) All types combined 1529 1421 1537 1402 Oral cavity (mouth and throat) 33 33 33 33 Esophagus and stomach 34 31 34 31 Colo-rectal 135 136 135 133 Pancreas 32 28 33 30 Lung and bronchus 223 172 224 170 Melanoma of skin 55 60 56 63 Breast 212 203 213 198 Uterine 42 43 42 45 Ovarian 21 20 21 19 Prostate 259 260 256 261 Bladder 77 66 77 66 Kidney 41 44 41 47 Brain 17 19 17 18 Thyroid 30 27 30 30 Non-Hodgkin's lymphona 70 63 72 63 Leukemias 49 42 49 44

See also:

mark breitenfeldt April 16, 2012 at 11:59 PM
It's amazing how a rumor can start an avalanche of ignorance and fear!-I am from Fridley and lost my mom to Brain cancer at age 54.I new from day one this Cancer Cluster stuff had wasn't true-I am glad it is over and I hope Erin Brokovich doesn't bring her side show to town-Mark Breitenfeldt
Chris Steller (Editor) April 17, 2012 at 12:26 AM
Thanks for the comment, Mark. To give the Fridley Cancer Cluster group credit, they are seeking information. But it's a thin line between concern and fear, for sure.
Mandy Meisner April 17, 2012 at 02:08 AM
Mark, I'm sorry to hear about your mom. While I don't agree with the tone of the Cluster, I have to believe their intentions are honorable. That being said, I also hope at some point they will accept that sometimes there just aren't any answers in life, and it's how we face the unanswerable that shape our character, and allows us grace.
concernedcitizen April 22, 2012 at 06:11 PM
I'm sorry ... all of a sudden the rates are 7.6% after review of the data. What mathematical games are they playing? This is very concerning.
Aneela Idnani April 23, 2012 at 01:01 AM
As with Fridley, New Brighton, MN (a neighboring community) is showing what we think are abnormal instances of cancer diagnosis. The nearby Twin City Ammunition Plant was declared a superfund site in the early 80s, after having contaminated New Brighton's drinking supply. Now we are trying to document the after effects. Please visit newbrightoncancerproject.com for more info & to help!


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