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Cancer Cluster or Coincidence?


Author(s)

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 Areas

Ethics, Scientific method

Educational Level

High school, Undergraduate lower division

Format

PDF

Type / Methods

Analysis (Issues), Debate, Dilemma/Decision, Discussion, Interrupted

Language

English

Subject Headings

Environmental Science  |   Epidemiology  |   Public Health  |  


Date Posted

7/18/2016

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