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Cancer Rates in Florida Community May be Elevated

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The results of The Acreage cancer study were finally revealed on Friday.   According to the Florida Department of Heath, people in the community may be experiencing elevated levels of cancer.    While the report was not clear if the findings point to a cancer cluster in The Acreage,  the  Palm Beach Post said that the Florida health department is now set to launch a second phase of its investigation.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, a cancer cluster is defined as a greater-than-expected number of cancer cases that occurs within a group of people in a geographic area over a period of time. Cancer cases are more likely to represent a cancer cluster if they involve (1) one type of cancer, (2) a rare type of cancer, or (3) a type of cancer in a group not usually affected by that cancer, such as a cancer in children.

According to the Palm Beach Post, investigators found 1,369 cases of all types of cancer 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.

According to the Post, this next phase of the study will involve recalculating cancer rates using more recent population estimates and verifying if any particular brain cancer is more common than expected. Residents also will be interviewed about other risk factors for pediatric brain cancer, the Post said.

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. People in the area have speculated that a nearby Pratt & Whitney jet engine plant and/or citrus groves in the area, which used potentially dangerous pesticides for decades, may have tainted well water in the area. There were also concerns about soil contamination.

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