Palm Beach County residents fear possible cancer cluster in Acreage community.
West Palm Beach, FL (JusticeNewsFlash.com)—A suspected cancer cluster may be arising in a rural community just west of West Palm Beach. Reportedly, seven Acreage children, living only miles apart, all developed tumors, as reported by the Palm Beach Post. Garrett Dunsford, 5, and Kristina Decarlo, 16, who live less than two miles from each other, both developed brain tumors and had them removed within two days from one another. A 14-year-old girl, who lives just three miles away from Dunsford, was also diagnosed with a brain tumor, and a neighbor living next to Dunsford died from a brain tumor as well. Reportedly, three other children and several adults all living in the same area, also had brain tumors surgically removed by a team of neurological doctors and nurses.
Garrett’s mother, Jennifer Dunsford, asked the state Department of Health (DOH) http://www.doh.state.fl.us/ last month to investigate a possibility of a cancer cluster in the Acreage. A cancer cluster is generally defined as a higher-than-expected rate of a type of cancer concentrated in one geographic area. The state DOH found substantial evidence to begin the process of gathering basic information on residents residing in the same area where brain tumors have been reported. The DOH reports, if the incident rate is higher then expected, scientist might begin a full investigation.
Acreage area residents are beginning to speculate possible causes for the high rate of cancerous tumors. Environmental factors, particularly pesticides, are the most popular theory. The Mecca Farms grove surrounds the area where the alleged cancer cluster is located. It is believed the orange groves are regularly sprayed with pesticides. Area residents report seeing people in hazardous materials suits spraying regularly. It is unknown if any pesticides are indeed affecting area residents.
Thorough tests on Dunsford’s well water system came back clean, ruling out the possibility of something contaminating the water. This certainly does not mean the water supply in the Acreage is entirely safe; each homeowner has their own well, which supplies water to only their household. Further testing will need to be done around the alleged cancer cluster area to determine the area water quality. Palm Beach area health investigators say there is a long list of potential cancer causing agents that has not been ruled out.
This isn’t the first case of a suspected cancer cluster in the Palm Beach area. In the late 1990’s the state DOH looked into a possible cancer cluster in St. Lucie County. The investigation, one of the largest of its nature at the time, discovered 28 cases of brain and central nervous system childhood cancers in the St. Lucie area from 1981 to 1996. The investigation ultimately did not find a pattern to support the cancer cluster theory. The American Cancer Society http://www.cancer.org/docroot/home/index.asp reports the second most common type of cancer in children is brain tumors, which accounts for about 20 percent of childhood cancers. The Mayo Clinic http://www.mayoclinic.com/ also states nearly 2,000 kids under 16-years-old are diagnosed with a brain tumor, nationwide.
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Heather L. Ryan, R.N., C.L.N.C- Heather Ryan is a Certified Legal Nurse Consultant with 15 years of experience in the health care industry. Her expertise in reviewing medical records and assisting lawyers with the determination as to whether legal action should be taken provides an invaluable asset to the newsroom. Medical-malpractice, products liability, personal injury and workers’ compensation are some of the recent areas of litigation Ms. Ryan has focused her efforts on. A member of the Florida Justice Association, Heather maintains a long list of certifications and credentials to support her areas of expertise and stays up-to-date with her clinical knowledge working as an emergency room/trauma nurse, at a Level 1, Adult/Pediatric trauma and teaching institution in South Florida.