ADH reveals findings in investigation for a possible cancer cluster in Elkins

Fox 24

An investigation into a possible cancer cluster among Elkins teens comes to a close. 

The Arkansas Department of Health (ADH) began the investigation months ago into the number of cases of childhood cancer in Washington County. 

Concerned families contacted ADH to investigate. 

The Department collected data from 2001 through 2017 and found during the 17-year period approximately 120 children aged 19 and younger were diagnosed with cancer every year in Arkansas. 

Nine of those diagnoses happened in Washington County. 

The ADH found that was a lower number of childhood cancer cases than expected.

In fact, Washington County was found to have a similar rate of invasive cancers diagnosed and reported to those in the entire state. 

Although there’s no sign of a cluster problem, the department will continue monitoring the area on a regular basis. 

“Regardless if there are one case or 100 cases it’s devastating for the individual, and the family and the community,” ADH Medical Director Dr. Appathurai Bala said. “If there is any concern raised we start a cluster investigation.”

Doctor Bala said a three-step process was used to determine whether there was a cancer cluster in Elkins, including gathering evidence and examining reported cases. 

The cancer investigation team will monitor hospitals, pathology labs, physicians, and look into an individual’s concerns. 

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