On Tuesday, November 27, 2012 the Public Health Institute released a study that spurs important dialogue around breast cancer in California. The California Breast Cancer Mapping Project was funded by the California Breast Cancer Research Program of the University of California to explore the feasibility of mapping areas in the state with elevated breast cancer rates in a manner that is useful to diverse stakeholders. Multi-disciplinary staff affiliated with the Public Health Institute recruited an advisory group (AG) of breast cancer advocates, clinicians, and public health practitioners to develop a mapping protocol that would identify geographic areas most impacted by breast cancer.
The project staff and AG developed a mapping protocol that would identify areas with elevated breast cancer rates within and across county boundaries and that reflected AG priorities. These priorities included (1) maintenance of scientific rigor; (2) elimination of false positive findings; (3) protection of patient confidentiality; and (4) provision of information that is meaningful and actionable to stakeholders. To maximize utility for communication and public health action, the protocol- which was based on an established statistical method- also included the analysis of demographic characteristics for the women diagnosed with breast cancer and the population living in areas with elevated rates.
The analysis conducted using this mapping protocol yielded new information by identifying areas– no longer restricted by county boundaries- with elevated rates of invasive breast cancer and producing new maps for the entire state. This analysis identified four areas of concern (represented below), where invasive breast cancer was 10-20% higher than the state average during the time period of 2000-2008.
The report and other project information are available at www.californiabreastcancermapping.org.