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Cancer Cluster or Coincidence?



Co Authors:

Jaclyn E. McLean
Natural and Social Sciences
Bowling Green State University, Firelands College
jmclean@bgsu.edu

Ram S. Veerapaneni
Natural and Social Sciences
Bowling Green State University, Firelands College
ramv@bgsu.edu

Abstract:

In this interrupted case study students analyze the complexities surrounding identification and confirmation of cancer clusters. The case challenges students to consider the evidence from two different perspectives; a local family physician representing the community, and a cluster investigation officer who has worked on several cancer cluster investigations. This case was inspired by the discussion about a possible cancer cluster in Clyde, Ohio, where around 20 cases of childhood cancer since 2001 fueled public concern, leading to an investigation by the Ohio department of health in 2006. This case was designed for introductory courses in biology and environmental sciences, taken by both science majors and non-science majors. In addition to introductory college classes, this case could also be used in advanced high school biology classes.

Objectives:
  • Identify observations that lead to cancer cluster investigations.
  • Interpret population data pertaining to possible cancer clusters.
  • Assess the data pertaining to the possible cluster in Carson and create an action plan to aid the community.
Keywords: cancer cluster; epidemiology; cancer; carcinogens; vinyl chloride; tumors; benign; malignant; standardized incidence ration; SIR; confidence interval; Tom’s River
Topical Area: Ethics, Scientific method
Educational Level: High school, Undergraduate lower division
Formats: PDF
Type/Method: Analysis (Issues), Debate, Dilemma/Decision, Discussion, Interrupted
Language: English
Subject Headings: Environmental Science   Epidemiology   Public Health  
Date Posted: 7/18/2016
Date Modified: N/A
Copyright: Copyright held by the National Center for Case Study Teaching in Science, University at Buffalo, State University of New York. Please see our usage guidelines, which outline our policy concerning permissible reproduction of this work.

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