Science & Technology

UWF study uncovers US counties with high mortality rates and incidences of breast cancer

A research team from the University of West Florida Hal Marcus College of Science and Engineering has identified geographical areas of unusually high rates of mortality and incidences of breast cancer. The surveillance study locates cancer “hot spots” and provides health officials with valuable information about where additional attention and proactive measures could be taken.

Dr. Raid Amin, a distinguished university professor in the Department of Mathematics and Statistics, stands before a map where his research has identified high rates of breast cancer death in America.

UWF professor Dr. Raid Amin, along with UWF alumni Bridget Fritsch and John Retzloff, Director of Internal Medicine Residency at Sacred Heart Hospital co-authored the study. Their research, which began in January 2018, used SaTScan, a disease surveillance software to look at breast cancer incidences and mortality in U.S. counties in the 48 contiguous states.

The data, which was conducted over the course of 15 years starting in 2000, found that counties with low socioeconomic status may have higher breast cancer mortality rates while counties with higher socioeconomic status may have higher breast cancer incidences. The findings could be related to health insurance accessibility, and those without health insurance to identify early-stage cancers versus late-stage cancers when treatment is more difficult. Amin hopes the identification of geographical clusters of high breast cancer mortality and incidences assists health departments in the U.S. with focusing on the counties identified in the study and developing an effective public health campaign.

“It is important that health departments pay more attention to cancer surveillance studies identifying cancer clusters when such studies are based on reliable data sets and are analyzed by highly trained researchers,” Amin said.

Each year there are about 237,000 cases of breast cancer diagnosed in the U.S. Results of the study were recently published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine.

For more information on the UWF Hal Marcus College of Science and Engineering, visit