Thursday, March 18, 2010
Medical Reports: Cancer Concerns
For almost a year, a childhood cancer cluster in the Acreage has been the focus for state and federal investigators, but that small Palm Beach county community may not be alone. A new study shows there might be cancer clusters all over South Florida. 7s Lynn Martinez with this special assignment report Cancer Concerns.
WSVN -- The people in the Acreage community have been literally living a nightmare.
Jennifer Dunsford: "In 2008 I recorded four kids that all had brain tumors, so that's what prompted me to say who else is out there?"
An alarming number of kids in their small community have brain tumors.
Jennifer Dunsford: "When our children are sick, we worry."
Because is still a mystery, leaving families desperate for answers and suspicious of their water wondering if it's safe.
Jennifer Dunsford: "When it's bath time, and I say 'I don't want you soaking in that water, hurry up and take a shower, and every little thing you do, having to think about cancer."
But a new report indicates there may be other areas in South Florida where parents should be concerned.
Dr. Chatchawin Assanasen: "From our study, it does appear there is a larger area of interest."
This stunning report from the University of West Florida and Nemours Children's Clinic in Pensacola reveals possible childhood cancer clusters in several areas in South Florida.
Dr. Chatchawin Assanasen: "What we were able to identify through statistical analysis was there were areas of Southern Florida, as well as Northeastern Florida, that appeared to have higher than expected rates of childhood cancers."
The report says some areas saw higher rates of leukemia and brain tumors between 2000 and 2007.
Dr. Bill Louda: "There is about 52 cases in this entire South Florida region when they expect about 24 so it's about double, double and a half."
This map shows areas of concern. In the gray areas cancer rates are normal, but the orange and red areas have elevated child cancer rates.
Dr. Bill Louda: "It seems to be central and western Broward County and extreme southeast Miami Dade. From their map it looks like south Biscayne Bay, around the Turkey Point area. Not to say that Turkey Point is doing it, but it's around that area."
Seven News has learned state health officials had access to the data used in the new report, but never made the connection that there may be cancer clusters.
Reporter; "These guys brought something to your attention that you should have known about right?"
Dr. Ana Viamonte: "There's nothing that's done either in the state of Florida or in any other state, that's going out and looking for things. We usually are responding to issues that are brought to us."
The health department sent us this statement saying the report used "new and untested" methods of study to look at cancer cases, and now says "independent researchers will use this report to identify areas that require additional study using more traditional methods."
Dr. Chatchawin Assanasen: "We are certainly at the very early stages of looking at this. We are working very hard with the Florida Department of Health and the CDC. And as things become more relevant and more available we will certainly have more information for the public."
But in the meantime, it looks like more families just like those in the Acreage will be wondering if there is a reason for a cancer concern. In the next few weeks, the state health department is setting up an office near the Acreage so residents can talk to state officials about their concerns. They're also looking into setting up a website so people can track what's happening with the health department's investigation of this study.