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Michigan lawmakers score poorly in report on dealing with cancer

Steve Carmody
Michigan Radio

Michigan state lawmakers need to do more to help protect people from cancer. That’s the finding of a new study by the American Cancer Society.

The American Cancer Society says 58,610 people in Michigan will be diagnosed with cancer this year;  20,800 will die.

Nationwide, the society estimates 1.6 million Americans will be diagnosed with cancer in 2014, and 580,000 will die from the disease. 

The American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network’s annual “How Do You Measure Up” report says Michigan state lawmakers should be doing more to reduce cancer risks.

The report lays out 12 benchmarks states should meet to reduce cancer risks and provide help to those with cancer. 

Michigan meets four of 12 benchmarks. Only one state managed to meet nine of the 12 benchmarks. 

Philip Moilanen is an ambassador with the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network in Michigan. He says Michigan scores well for its tobacco tax rate and smoke-free law. 

But Moilanen says Michigan needs to increase access to smoking cessation programs and access to palliative care. He adds the state needs to spend more money on anti-tobacco education programs and on early detection of breast and cervical cancer.

Moilanen says combating cancer often loses out to other issues Michigan lawmakers consider when they are deciding on state spending priorities.

“I think most of them understand the issue. The question is how do they set their priorities,” says Moilanen. “I think what we need to do is have everyone let them know that their efforts are focused on the wrong priorities.”

Moilanen hopes state lawmakers will take a stand against electronic cigarettes to keep young people from getting hooked.  

Steve Carmody has been a reporter for Michigan Radio since 2005. Steve previously worked at public radio and television stations in Florida, Oklahoma and Kentucky, and also has extensive experience in commercial broadcasting.
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