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    Environmental and Injury Epidemiology and Toxicology Unit

    1100 West 49th Street
    Austin, TX 78756

    Phone: 1-800-588-1248
    Fax: 512-776-7222

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Cancer Cluster Investigations


The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Council of State and Territorial Epidemiologists (CSTE) define a cancer cluster as a greater than expected number of cancer cases that occurs within a group of people in a geographic area over a defined period of time.  DSHS followed the CDC and CSTE 2013 Guidelines for Investigating Suspected Cancer Clusters and Responding to Community Concerns.  The guidelines also provide additional steps that can be followed when appropriate. The third step is to evaluate the feasibility of performing an epidemiologic study to examine if exposure to a specific risk factor is associated with the suspected cancer cluster, and the fourth step is to conduct an epidemiologic study, if deemed feasible in step three.   Of the thousands of cancer cluster inquiries conducted in the United States, very few meet the statistical and etiological criteria for further investigation. 

Most cancer cluster investigations include an analysis of the occurrence of new cancer cases in a particular area over time and only answer the question, “Are there more cancer cases occurring in the area or population of concern than would be expected, based on the size and demographic characteristics of that population?”  It is important to note that the data and statistical analysis conducted at this step cannot determine if cancers observed in the community are associated with environmental, lifestyle, or other risk factors.

Cluster Investigation Reports







Last updated June 26, 2015