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No cancer cluster in the Dalton area

May 11, 2007

ATLANTA (GA) – Recently reported cases of glioblastoma multiforme, a type of brain cancer, do not indicate a cancer ‘cluster’ in the Dalton area or the presence of an environmental chemical hazard, according to an environmental health survey conducted by the Georgia Division of Public Health (GDPH). By definition, a cancer cluster is a greater-than-expected number of cancer cases occurring within a group of people in a geographic area over a period of time. GDPH will continue to conduct surveillance for gliobastoma multiforme and other forms of cancer in Dalton and Whitfield County.

"Based on the available data, we’ve not seen more than the expected number of brain and other central nervous system cancer cases, specifically glioblastoma multiforme, in the Dalton area," said Susan Lance, DVM, PhD.

To formally collect and document glioblastoma multiforme investigation activities, the GDPH Chemical Hazards Unit (CHP) conducted an environmental health education needs assessment. Whitfield County residents were involved in the development of the questions for the needs assessment, and GDPH used their suggestions of areas where they thought the questionnaire should be distributed. The results of the full cancer cluster investigation and the needs assessment project are expected to be available in May 2007.

Various types of cancer are diagnosed in the Dalton area. For example, lung cancer, the most common cancer diagnosed in Georgia, is significantly higher for males in Dalton (134.6 per 100,000) than for Georgia males overall (107.4 per 100,000.)

Tobacco use is the cause of 87 percent of all lung cancer cases, and is the leading preventable cause of death in the United States and in Georgia. Each year over 10,000 Georgians die from a tobacco-related illness, and one death out of every six in Georgia is tobacco-related. Unlike the causes for other forms of cancer, there is help for Georgia tobacco users who want to kick the habit. To learn more about how to quit smoking call the free Georgia Tobacco Quit Line at 1-877-270-STOP; Spanish speakers may call 1-877-2NO-FUME; and the number for the hearing-impaired is 1-877-777-6534.

Being smoke-free is part of the statewide campaign, Live Healthy Georgia, urging everyone to improve the quality of their lives by also eating healthy, being active, getting checked and being positive. For more information on the Tobacco Use Prevention Program (TUPP) and the Live Healthy Georgia campaign, visit www.livehealthygeorgia.org.

Below is a data summary for Dalton and Whitfield County for 2000-2004 that shows 1,404 new cancer cases were diagnosed in Dalton from 2000 to 2004, with an average of 281 new cases of cancer per year. The Georgia Division of Public Health plans to continue monitoring cancer cases, including brain cancer cases and glioblastoma multiforme in the Dalton area.

Dalton* Cancer Incidence, 2000-2004
Data Summary

All Cancer Sites

1404 new cancer cases were diagnosed in Dalton from 2000 to 2004, an average of 281 new cases per year.

It is expected that about 151 males and 130 females will be diagnosed with cancer every year in Dalton.

The overall age-adjusted cancer incidence rate in Dalton is 485.0 per 100,000 population. This is higher than the rate for Georgia (468.8 per 100,000), but this difference is not statistically significant.

Males are 57% more likely than females to be diagnosed with cancer in Dalton.

Males

The overall age-adjusted cancer incidence rate for males in Dalton is 627.4 per 100,000 population. This is significantly higher than the rate for Georgia males (574.8 per 100,000).

Prostate, lung, and colorectal are the top cancer sites among males in both Dalton and the State of Georgia.

The age-adjusted prostate cancer incidence rate is higher for males in Dalton (175.7 per 100,000) than for Georgia males (166.1 per 100,000), but this difference is not statistically significant.

The age-adjusted lung cancer incidence rate is significantly higher for males in Dalton (134.6 per 100,000) than for Georgia males (107.4 per 100,000).

The age-adjusted colorectal cancer incidence rate is higher for males in Dalton (73.6 per 100,000) than for Georgia males (61.8 per 100,000), but this difference is not statistically significant.

Females

The overall age-adjusted cancer incidence rate for females in Dalton is 399.7 per 100,000 population. This is similar to the rate for Georgia females (398.7 per 100,000).

Breast, lung and colorectal are the top cancer sites among females in both Dalton and the State of Georgia.

The age-adjusted breast cancer incidence rate for females in Dalton (123.3 per 100,000) is similar to that for Georgia females (124.1 per 100,000).

The age-adjusted lung cancer incidence rate is significantly higher for females in Dalton (74.7 per 100,000) than for Georgia females (53.5 per 100,000).

The age-adjusted colorectal cancer incidence rate is significantly lower for females in Dalton (34.5 per 100,000) than for Georgia females (44.0 per 100,000).

* Dalton includes zip codes 30720 and 30721.


For information, contact:
Lisa Moery, 404-463-2299
lsmoery@dhr.state.ga.us