The Indian Health Service in Shiprock and the New Mexico Tumor Registry are teaming up to analyze tumor rates in rural areas of New Mexico. The first thing investigators have to do is find where residents, without street addresses, actually live.
When collecting residential data, researchers have traditionally relied on the mailing address provided in a patient’s chart. But in rural New Mexico, this is often just a post office box. Finding an actual home is a bit more challenging.
Dr. Chuck Wiggins is the director of the New Mexico Tumor Registry. He said accurate residential information is especially useful when looking at cancer rates and possible environmental factors.
"As an example people have wondered whether there’s any elevated risk to living close an old uranium mine," Wiggins explained. "So, if we could get very specific information about where that person lived we might be able to make a more accurate observation about possible associations."
Wiggins said the Indian Health Service may have residential information that the Tumor Registry doesn't. And if the investigators are successful in mapping homes and individuals, the group could expand the effort statewide.