People may be suspect cancer clusters when they learn about multiple family members, friends, neighbors or coworkers who have been diagnosed with or died from cancer. Unfortunately, 44 percent of all men and 33 percent of all women in the United States will develop cancer in his or her lifetime. Therefore, it is not unusual to see multiple cases of cancer in a community or workplace.
The term “cancer cluster” is used in a number of ways with slightly different meanings. The official definition used by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Cancer Institute, and the Ohio Department of Health (ODH) is the following:
A “true” cancer cluster often involves multiple cases of one type of cancer or related cancers; unusual types of cancer in a particular population; an unusual geographic or time distribution; and/or a known exposure pathway to a cancer-causing agent.
Cancer clusters are often not the result of environmental pollution. In fact, clusters most often occur due to shared behaviors and lifestyle factors such as high rates of tobacco use; lack of access to preventive health care; increased rates of screening (which may identify previously undiagnosed cases); low socioeconomic status; and chance, among other reasons.
Franklin County Public Health does look into cancer related concerns as information is received. If you would like to report concerns please complete our Community Cancer Concern Reporting Form.