LSU Health New Orleans Newsroom


Don’t Believe Everything You Read or Hear

June 28, 2021

LTR monograph covers

Recent news stories (The Advocate and WWNO) and the newest unpublished (and not peer reviewed) cancer study by the community outreach director at the Tulane Environmental Law Clinic continue to disingenuously portray the Louisiana Tumor Registry and obfuscate its mission.

A number of groups have used the Louisiana Tumor Registry as a foil to advance their agendas. This includes deliberately sowing mistrust of the Registry in the minds of the public, particularly those whose lives have been horribly affected by cancer – the very people the Louisiana Tumor Registry works so hard to help. Some reporters have chosen to go along with these groups by writing unbalanced stories, excluding facts and context about the Registry’s function. Not one of them has accepted the offer to do an in-depth story on the Registry to educate the public.

Though what the Registry is actually responsible for, as well as what does not fall under its purview, have been explained and corroborated, inappropriate allegations and the omission of facts that mischaracterize the Registry continue to be fed to the public.

The community outreach director’s study linking air pollution to cancer rates, which by the way could not have been done without Louisiana Tumor Registry data, said in a press release, "The reports published by the Louisiana Tumor Registry don’t include information about pollution or poverty, so it’s not surprising that they failed to document this link."

It is not the Registry’s responsibility to document links, a fact of which the community outreach director is fully aware. She created a brochure and posted it to their website that includes this:

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Media Contact

Leslie Capo

Office: 504-568-4806

Cell: 504-452-9166

“The Louisiana Tumor Registry (LTR) collects and monitors cancer data on Louisiana residents. LTR Reports do not investigate possible causes of cancer. Instead, they provide basic data that can be used for education or scientific studies by public health professionals.

“LTR Reports DO NOT:

”Evaluate the health effects of living near industrial facilities

”Report cancer risk

“In Louisiana, cancer risk from air pollution is highest in ‘Cancer Alley’.

“Account for many factors that affect cancer rates (for example, occupation, residential history, smoking, & pollution exposure.)

“Many factors can contribute to cancer disparities, including differences in lifestyle, genetics, environmental factors, and access to health care.”
The Louisiana Tumor Registry plays an invaluable role in reducing the burden of cancer among Louisiana’s people. They are the reason the dedicated Louisiana Tumor Registry staff chose their jobs. Registry staff know what a terrible thing cancer is; some of them know firsthand. They wanted to make a real difference. So how do they do that?

The Registry’s job is to find, count, and publish data on newly diagnosed cancer cases and deaths statewide. That’s it. That is enough. It is a massive undertaking. Without their data, researchers, policymakers and the public would be making decisions blindly. To fix a problem, you have to know that the problem exists. The Registry’s work is the foundation of it all. But let’s be clear about where the registry’s responsibility ends.

A registry’s job is to find the what, not the why. According to the National Cancer Institute, it is usually not possible to know exactly why one person develops cancer and another doesn’t. There are more than 100 types of cancer. There are many risk factors, including age, alcohol, cancer-causing substances, chronic inflammation, diet, family history, hormones, immunosuppression, infectious agents, obesity, radiation, sunlight, and tobacco, as well as well as others. To say with certainty that just one caused a cancer would require an enormously comprehensive study.

The Louisiana Tumor Registry’s data gives a true picture of what kind of cancers are occurring and where. It can expose areas of possible concern for bona fide scientists to study. It also contributes to cancer policy, funding and prevention efforts at the state and national levels.

Louisiana Tumor Registry staff work tirelessly to perform this critical service, and they are extremely good at it.
It is one of only 19 population-based registries comprising the National Cancer Institute’s Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results (SEER) Program. SEER is the authoritative source for cancer statistics in the United States.

It has met or exceeded the goals for all data quality indicators in the SEER Data Quality Profile, receiving a first-place award every year since 2009.

It is also one of the original participants in the National Program of Cancer Registries, funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC.)

It has met all the standards of the CDC’s National Program of Cancer Registries for all data quality indicators every year since 1998.

It has been awarded Gold Certificates (the highest honor) by the North American Association of Central Cancer Registries every year since 1997.
The Louisiana Tumor Registry should be a source of pride, and you should be confident in its data and reports, no matter what spurious criticism you read or hear. But don’t just take our word. Take the words of the National Cancer Institute, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the North American Association of Central Cancer Registries – the real experts – who have recognized and validated the Louisiana Tumor Registry’s high-quality data time and time again.