UNION COUNTY, Fla. — Tommy Spires has seen what lung cancer can do to a family.
His father died from it.
“That’s what he died of is lung cancer. The doctor said he didn’t know if it was because of smoking or not,” said Spires.
Spires lives in Union County, the county with the highest number of deaths in the nation from lung cancer.
According to a study done by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, there are 231 deaths per 100,000 people there.
It's a shocking statistic for Spires.
“I don’t know what to think of it,” he said.
We reached out to the media specialists for the study and learned that about a third of the population in Union County are inmates in state prisons.
They say one of those prisons has a cancer treatment center that could be driving the high death rates in Union County. They provided more insight from Laura Dwyer-Lindgren, a researcher who authored the study, who wrote:
Lauren Clark, a development manager with the American Lung Association, said early detection is key.
“That’s one of the scariest parts is that most people who find out, it's stage 4,” said Clark.
“After he was diagnosed, he lived about eight weeks, I think,” said Spires, of his father.
Clark said lung cancer is the leading cancer killer for men and women across the U.S. She said environmental factors, smoking and genetics play a role in who develops lung cancer.
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