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By Judith Welles

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This program does more than you know

I learned recently that the National Cancer Institute uses geographic information system (GIS) technology in cancer studies. Everyone knows that NCI involves biomedical research, but geography? In fact, NCI researchers include geographers and some of them received an award last fall from ESRI for going beyond the traditional use of GIS technology.

Linda Williams Pickle, coordinator of geographic research in NCI's Division of Cancer Control and Population Sciences, Surveillance Research Program, explained that "NCI has long recognized that cancer rates vary geographically, having published cancer atlases for over 30 years. As GIS tools for spatial analyses have become more widely available, we have incorporated them into our standard analytic practices."

According to Pickle, place is important for cancer studies because of geographic differences in environmental exposures, cultural attitudes toward risky behaviors and preventive health care, local public health policies, and the availability of services and health information. "GIS is now a primary tool for NCI staff," she said.

Posted by Judith Welles on Mar 14, 2007 at 12:13 PM


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