2008.08.28 – ATSDR Confirms Cancer Cluster
August 28, 2008
Government & Policy
ATSDR Confirms Cancer Cluster
More research is needed to determine whether environmental pollutants are to blame
Britt E. Erickson
As part of an ongoing investigation that began in 2006, the Agency for Toxic Substances & Disease Registry (ATSDR) has confirmed 33 cases of a rare cancer called polycythemia vera (PV) in people living in northeastern Pennsylvania. Although the investigation was not designed to pinpoint the cause of the disease, the cluster was identified in a region near several Superfund sites.
PV is a bone marrow disorder that causes people to have an excess of red blood cells. ATSDR scientists were able to confirm the cancer cluster thanks to a biomarker called JAK2, which was present in all 33 cases of the illness. A test for the JAK2 mutation has been available only since 2006.
According to a statement from ATSDR, none of the confirmed cases had “common jobs, ancestry, lifestyle choices, or exposures.” ATSDR is working with the Pennsylvania Department of Health to investigate potential risk factors for PV, while the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention continues to monitor state and national registries for reported PV cases.
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