ANNAPOLIS -- Gov. William Donald Schaefer announced yesterday the appointment of a Council on Cancer Control that will develop a program to prevent cancer and reduce Maryland's cancer death rate, the highest of any state in the nation.
"There are certain cancers that we can win the battle. One is breast cancer, the other is cervical cancer and cancer caused by smoking," the governor said. He asked the council to try to reduce those cancers by one third.
The council is to design a public education program, oversee a campaign to identify people at risk for cancer and expand the state cancer registry to provide information on who gets cancer in Maryland, what stage it was diagnosed at and types of treatment given.
Governor Schaefer named Christian H. Poindexter, vice
chairman of the board and director of the Baltimore Gas and Electric Co., to head the 15-member commission.
The panel also includes some of the state's leading medical and scientific experts on cancer, two Cabinet members, two legislators, an educator and four lay members.
The council will have $1 million from the state health department to use in the coming year, Mr. Poindexter said.
Dr. Joseph Aisner, director of the University of Maryland Cancer Center, and Dr. Albert H. Owens Jr., director of the Johns Hopkins Oncology Center, had called for the appointment of a state cancer commission earlier this year.
The two cancer specialists, both named to the new council, said a state commission with the clout to oversee an effective cancer control plan was needed to make a real dent in the state's cancer problem.
The state already has the Maryland Cancer Consortium, a group of more than 40 agencies and organizations.
But Dr. Owens, chairman of the consortium, has called it "a lot of arms and legs" without a strong leader.
Governor Schaefer said he first became aware that Maryland had the worst cancer death rate in the country from an article in The Sun last November.
Two months ago the state secretaries of health and the environment and Dr. Aisner and Dr. Owens met with the governor to discuss the establishment of a state council.
The state health department already has a federal grant to develop Maryland's first cancer plan. That plan was published earlier this year.
Council on Cancer Control
Joseph Aisner, director, University of Maryland Cancer Center
Delegate Rosemary Hatem Bonsack, D-Harford
Ira Horowitz, director, Union Memorial Hospital gynecologic oncology
Patricia Joan Ozman Horsey, businesswoman from Chestertown
Genevieve M. Matanoski, cancer epidemiologist, Johns Hopkins University
Mary Mussman, physician adviser, Maryland Department of Health
Albert H. Owens Jr., director, Johns Hopkins University Oncology Center
Famebridge Payne, businesswoman from Howard County
Robert Perciasepe, Secretary, Department of the Environment
Christian H. Poindexter, director, Baltimore Gas and Electric Co.
Errol L. Reese, president, University of Maryland at Baltimore
Mary Sexton, epidemiologist, University of Maryland School of Medicine
Richard W. Story, senior manager, Atlantic Builders Group
Constance Marie Unseld, director, Unseld's School
Sen. Larry Young, D-Baltimore City