Childhood Cancer Cluster Confirmed in The AcreageFeb 2, 2010 | Parker Waichman LLP
The Florida Department of Health has confirmed a pediatric cancer cluster in The Acreage. According to The Miami Herald, an eight month study has found higher rates of brain tumors and brain cancer among children, especially girls.
The residents of The Acreage have been concerned about a cancer cluster since several children living in close proximity to each other were diagnosed with brain tumors or brain cancer. Earlier this summer, residents’ concerns prompted the Florida Department of Health to begin a study of cancer rates in the area.
The results of the first phase of the study were unveiled in late August. According to the Palm Beach Post, investigators found 1,369 cases of all types of cancer among residents in The Acreage between 1995 and 2007. A similar-sized area elsewhere in Florida could be expected to have 1,055 cases in that time, the Post said. The report revealed six cases of brain cancer in children 14 and younger from 1997 to 2007. Of those, three were diagnosed in 2008, the report said.
At the time, officials said the findings pointed to elevated cancer rates in the community. Those findings were enough to convince the health department to launch a second phase of the cancer cluster study, which started in December. That phase involved interviewing the families of 13 children previously diagnosed with cancer. All of the children were younger than 18 when diagnosed with a brain tumor or brain cancer from 1993-2008.
According to The Miami Herald, conclusions from the first phase were based on numbers from the 2000 U.S. Census, when the population was smaller — possibly making the cancer rates look incorrectly elevated in comparison. But now the health department says that even accounting for population growth, preliminary results from the second part of the study show childhood cancer rates are still abnormally high.
According to findings from the second phase of the study, in 2005 through 2007 three new cases of brain cancer were reported in The Acreage, three times higher than the norm.
Unfortunately, there is a chance that residents of The Acreage won’t ever know what is behind the high cancer rates in their community. According to The Miami Herald, until the health department finishes analyzing those interviews in the next two months, the state wouldn’t conduct any environmental tests, if at all, to look for a potential cause.
As we reported previously, initial soil and water samples conducted by state health officials tested negative for toxins. Earlier this month, health officials screened for radon gas in about a dozen homes of the children who had been diagnosed with brain tumors.