Malignant cancer mortality in Province of Taranto (Italy). Geographic analysis in an area of high environmental risk


Background. A geographic analysis of the causes of death is an important tool for assessing the effectiveness of Public Health initiatives. The aim of this study is to analyse the causes of death between 2000 and 2004, to discover any excess mortality from can- cer in Province of Taranto, an area at high environmental risk. Methods. Mortality data from cancer were selected from the Puglia Regional Nominative Causes of Death Registry. Crude and standardized rates and Standardized Mortality Ratios (SMR) were calculated for the five Provinces of the Puglia Region, their capital cities and in four concentric rings around the industrial area located in Province of Taranto. Results. Even if the highest death rate for all tumours resulted in the Province of Lecce (24.9 x 10,000), in the cities of Lecce and Bari (29 x 10,000), the distribution of the SMRs in Province of Taranto showed an excess of mortality (+10%) in the ring next to industrial area. For lung cancer the highest rate was reported in city of Taranto (6 x10,000) and the highest risk (+24%) in the ring next to industrial area. Moreover, in this area 9 (70%) of the 13 considered malignant tumours types presented an excess of mortality. Conclusion. The results uphold the data reported in the pub- lished literature. It is fundamental to intensify research into other risk factors (exposure at work and aberrant lifestyles). Moreover, there is an increasing need for a Regional Cancer Register.