Ga. lawmaker calls for CDC to investigate alarming cancer rate

Ken Amaro, First Coast News | December 11, 2015
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[COMMENT: A Rhabdomyosarcoma Cluster???  Perhaps this will drive a little more research into this monster disease (Alan)]

KINGSLAND, Ga. -- Southeast Georgia is a peaceful community, troubled by an alarming number of childhood cancer cases.

Parents and grandparents who have either lost children to cancer or have children battling cancer are looking for answers.

"How many more have got to be diagnosed before somebody says there is a problem?" wondered Dee WIlliams, whose daughter was diagnosed with leukemia.

This summer, after four cases of rhabdomyosarcoma in Ware and Pierce counties were diagnosed, Georgia State Rep. Jason Spencer asked the Georgia Department of Public Health to investigate the cancer cases.

"If you look at the incident rate of rhabdomyosarcoma, it is 4.3 cases per one million in the United States," said Spencer. "In Southeast Georgia, we have four cases alone."

Spencer was looking for answers from the health department's investigation, but a draft report lacked definitive conclusions and provided no answers -- to parents or lawmakers.

"I think more work needs to be done," Rep. Spencer said.

Joan Tibor of SilentDisaster.org, which has been independently investigating the cancer cases, calls the report disappointing.

"I wish I could say I'm surprised, but I am not surprised," she said.

Tibor said she moved from Waycross to Jacksonville because her doctor told her if she wants to live she has to move. She too is looking for answers.

"Everything they have put into report we provided them," said Tibor. "They haven't done any work on their own."

The report lacked conclusion but offered the following recommendations:

Continued childhood cancer surveillance

Provide community education about cancer clusters

Place an emphasis on quitting smoking

"I've got some recommendations for them," said Tibor. "They need to bring their butts to Ware County and Pierce County and they need to figure out what the problem is."

There is a problem and the community wants and deserves answers, Tibor told First Coast News.

"This is still a red flag and this report is incomplete in terms of the data that is included," said Spencer.

Next week, the Georgia Legislative Delegation meets with health officials. That's when Spencer plans to call for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to launch its own investigation.