Cause of cancer clusters almost impossible to find

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Associated Press

Posted on December 30, 2010 at 3:02 PM

Facts about cancer clusters:

— Clusters occur when there are more cancer cases than statistically expected in a specific area over a certain time.

— They're typically limited to one type of cancer or a rare form of it, or a type of cancer that strikes people at an age when they usually don't get that kind of malignancy.

— Verifying a cluster exists is difficult because cancer comes in many forms and has many causes. It also can develop quickly or over several years. And cancer is so common that 1 of every 3 people will develop it.

— Many suspected clusters turn out not to be a true cluster. Most occur by chance.

— The causes of childhood cancers are mostly unknown.

— About 27 children under age 15 are diagnosed with cancer in the U.S. every day.

— Even after a cluster is confirmed, a cause for it usually isn't found.

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Sources: U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Cancer Institute, American Cancer Society

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