Concord residents have a higher risk of breast cancer than the California average, according to a new statewide breast cancer mapping project.
Certain central Contra Costa County cities — including Concord, Walnut Creek, Pleasant Hill, Martinez and Lamorinda — have been identified as “areas of concern” because of the prevalence of breast cancer compared to rates statewide. Concord had the highest number of deaths in Contra Costa County and an above-average breast cancer death rate.
The mapping project, which uses U.S. census data instead of county health information, shows four areas of concern: two in northern California and two others in Southern California, according to the San Francisco Chronicle. The northern California areas include Marin County, long identified as a major “cancer cluster,” but expands the area to include Napa, Solano and Contra Costa counties, where it was previously believed the breast cancer rate had stabilized in the past ten years.
“The exact causes of breast cancer are not known,” according to a breast cancer report from the Contra Costa County Health Services Department. “However, several individual, familial and behavioral factors have been identified that appear to increase the chances of developing breast cancer.”
According to information from the Contra Costa County Health Department, the highest breast cancer death rate is in Concord, where between 2005-2007 (the latest figures available), there were 49 deaths, 11.8 percent of the 415 total countywide breast cancer fatalities during that period.
The second highest was Walnut Creek, with a total of 47 deaths, or 11.3 percent.
The chances of developing breast cancer increase with age, and most cases occur after menopause and in women 60 years and older. In Contra Costa County, white women are most likely to be diagnosed with breast cancer, but African American women are more likely to die from the disease.
Diet, exercise and access to health care are all seen as important ways to prevent breast cancer, and regular screening is important. Mammograms have detected breast cancer is up to 90 percent of women who otherwise showed no symptoms, health officials say.
“The five-year survival rate for female breast cancer is high overall but best if diagnosed early,” the county health department study says.
Here are the county’s latest breast cancer mortality figures:City Deaths Percent of County Total Rate (per 100,000) Concord 49 11.8 23.9 Walnut Creek 47 11.3 24.6 Antioch 38 9.2 29.8 Richmond 33 8.0 21.4 Pittsburg 20 4.8 20.8 Brentwood 20 4.8 31.2 Martinez 17 4.1 N/A San Pablo 15 3.6 N/A Oakley 13 3.1 N/A El Cerrito 13 3.1 N/A Pleasant Hill 12 2.9 N/A Hercules 8 1.9 N/A Pinole 6 1.4 N/A Countywide 415 100 23.0