Skip directly to searchSkip directly to the site navigationSkip directly to the page's main content

About the New Mexico Cancer Concerns Work Group

The New Mexico Cancer Concerns Work Group (CCW) responds to inquiries from the public, health professionals, or other people who are concerned about cancers among a specified group of people, such as in a community or a workplace. The process involves coordinated and standardized responses from the New Mexico Department of Health and the New Mexico Tumor Registry. These responses are based on an exploration of data available to the work group.

The CCW includes epidemiologists and health promotion experts from complementary fields such as cancer, environmental health, occupational health, toxicology, and/or occupational medicine. As a multi-agency collaborative, the CCW is comprised of New Mexico Department of Health staff from the Population and Community Health Bureau's Cancer Section, the Environmental Health Epidemiology Bureau, and Tribal Epidemiology staff from the Community Health Systems Epidemiology Bureau, as well as staff from the New Mexico Tumor Registry at the University of New Mexico Cancer Center and Health Sciences Center. The Tumor Registry is part of the National Cancer Institute's Surveillance Epidemiology and End Results (SEER) Program.

What We Offer

The New Mexico CCW provides coordinated and standardized responses to inquiries about cancer in NM based on an exploration of data available from the New Mexico Tumor Registry. The response typically entails a customized analysis to reveal current incidence rates, stratified by race/ethnicity (if relevant) and trend data if needed. When feasible, the CCW provides educational information about the types of cancers diagnosed that may have occurred within the geographic area of concern (e.g., where the people diagnosed with cancer live). This serves to empower the inquirer by helping him/her gain an understanding of the risk factors (e.g., age, smoking) for the cancer(s) of concern and known common causes (e.g., radon exposure) of the cancer(s).

What We Look For

When a cancer concern is received we look at relevant New Mexico county cancer incidence rates to determine if there are any statistically significant differences. Next, if warranted, we will examine: What is the geographic area of concern (i.e., where did the cancer cases occur)? How many people lived and/or worked in the area? What is the time frame of concern? When were the cancers diagnosed? Are the diagnoses within the time frame of concern the same type(s) of cancer(s)? Are the diagnoses rare cancers? Is the length of residency or employment in the locale of concern consistent with the known latency of the cancer(s)? Did the people diagnosed with cancer live or work in the place of concern during the time it takes for the cancer(s) to develop? Within the time frame and geographic area of concern, were there key known risk factors present for the type(s) of cancer(s) diagnosed (e.g., lifestyle, genetic, or exposure to occupational and/or environmental carcinogens)?

Are You Considering Submitting an Inquiry to the CCW?

New Mexico Cancer Concerns Work Group process

Things to consider as you explore your concern:

  • Are the diagnoses in the population of concern the same type of cancer?
  • What are the common lifestyles and habits of those diagnosed with the same type of cancer?

When submitting an inquiry to the CCW it is helpful if you provide the following:

  • The specific geographic area of concern (e.g., county).
  • The type(s) of cancers diagnosed in the geographic area.
  • The time frame of the cancer(s) diagnoses.
  • Relevant family history of the people with specific cancer(s) of concern.
  • Lifestyle information such as health habits and occupations.
  • Specific cancer-causing agent of concern.

Limitations of the CCW

The capacity of the Cancer Concerns Work Group is limited to examining the available cancer data from the New Mexico Tumor Registry. By providing information resulting from an initial examination of those data, the CCW can empower the inquirer to look for clues in a more strategic manner (such as exploring personal risk factors) and encourages the inquirer and community of concern to pursue suitable preventive measures for specific cancers. It is important to note that the Cancer Concerns Work Group realizes that it is possible that a cancer concern inquiry may result in the identification of a true cancer cluster; however, finding a clear environmental cause is difficult. Most identified cancer excesses are not related to known environmental causes, but instead appear to be due to personal risk factors, genetic causes, normal random variation in cancer occurrence, or unknown factors.

Where and how to submit an inquiry:

Inquiries may be submitted to nmtr-ccw@salud.unm.edu. To learn more about inquiry submission, please call 1-800-303-4503. Please note, this is a monitored message line and will not be answered by a live person.