The Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center (LCCC) and its hospital, MedStar Georgetown University Hospital (MGUH), are located in the District of Columbia (DC). Seventy-one percent of the cancer patients seen by LCCC physicians at MGUH reside in DC (19.2%) and its surrounding counties—Montgomery (18.4%) and Prince George’s (14.6%) in Maryland and Arlington/Alexandria City (6.2%) and Fairfax (12.8%) in Virginia. The catchment area includes 3.9 million individuals. Differences from the demographics of the general population (i.e., low percentages of Asian and Hispanic cancer patients relative to their numbers in the general population) can be explained as both groups are constituted of large immigrant populations with a lower than average age than the general population.
The large minority population in LCCC’s catchment area coupled with the cancer statistics for this population demands a strong focus from the Center. U.S. Cancer Statistics for 1999-2008 show that DC has higher incidence rates and higher death rates for many common cancers than the general U.S. population. Health disparities are particularly prevalent in our nation’s capital, especially in low-income neighborhoods. Almost one-quarter (22.3%) of the District of Columbia’s (DC’s) 586,000 residents live in poverty, and 57,200 (9.8%) are uninsured. The Medicaid enrollment rate (28%) in DC is much higher than in the total U.S. population (19%). The District of Columbia ranks highest in the country for breast and cervical cancer mortality. The annual breast cancer deaths in DC are 28.9 per 100,000 women as compared to 24.5 per 100,000 women in the general population. The high proportion of medically underserved residents is the impetus to better characterize the populations and communities within our catchment area. This will enable us to better study and develop more effective cancer prevention, diagnosis, and therapy approaches that serve this population.
Image left: Wards 7 & 8 are East of the River, and are home to the highest cancer rates in the District.