K-State Investigates High Cancer Rates in Lincoln and Russell Counties

By Trish Svoboda

Researchers at the Johnson Cancer Research Center at K-State are investigating the high cancer rates in two northern Kansas counties, Lincoln and Russell. Despite common risk factors not fully explaining the elevated cancer rates, groundwater contamination, and high radon levels are suspected culprits.

Lincoln County has the highest prostate cancer rate and the third-highest lung and bronchus cancer rate in the state. The study aims to inform the population about potential cancer risks, minimize cancer incidence, and enhance life quality.

Ellsworth County will serve as a control because of its comparable proximity and lower cancer incidence. The research involves projects coordinated by K-State faculty, including analyzing groundwater contaminants and radon concentrations, investigating environmental factors using Geographic Information System (GIS), and documenting cancer survivor stories to raise awareness and initiate discussion about solutions.

The research is expected to conclude by the summer of 2025. Each community will receive a summary of the findings.

Sign up for the KCLY Digital Newspaper, The Regional