Cancer Cluster Information
Cancer Cluster Concerns in Indiana
The term cancer cluster is used in several ways, with slightly different meanings. The official definition used by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the National Cancer Institute, and other public health institutions is “a greater than expected number of cancer cases that occurs within a group of people in a geographic area over a defined period of time.” Until all of these parameters are met, the group of cancer cases is often referred to as a suspected cancer cluster.
Worries about suspected cancer clusters typically begin when people notice that several relatives, friends, neighbors and/or co-workers have been diagnosed with cancer. While most of the suspected cancer concerns are not considered cancer clusters, when reported, each inquiry is assessed using all the tools available to the Indiana Department of Health (IDOH) and investigated through a systematic process as outlined by the Guidelines for the Management of Inquiries Related to Cancer Concerns or Suspected Cancer Clusters in Indiana.
IDOH thoroughly investigates all suspected cancer cluster concerns reported by the public and coordinates internal and external examination with local, state and federal experts from environmental management, academia, medical oncology, and public health (as needed). All investigations proceed in collaboration with the relevant local health department.
On June 22, 2016, Trevor’s Law was enacted. This federal law addresses the investigation of potential cancer clusters by requiring the Secretary of the United States Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to develop criteria for the designation of cancer clusters, as well as develop, publish, and periodically update guidelines for the investigation of potential cancer clusters. In addition, the law requires that HHS provide assistance to state and local health departments. IDOH’s current guidelines for responding to inquiries related to suspected cancer clusters align with the 2013 guidelines from the CDC and the Council of State and Territorial Epidemiologists. These guidelines have not changed since the passage of Trevor’s Law. The IDOH will continue to monitor for new guidance or changes in resources provided by federal partners.
Information for Hoosiers
- Questions and Answers about Suspected Cancer Clusters
Please read this first if you are concerned about a suspected cancer cluster in Indiana.
- How to Report a Suspected Cancer Cluster
Instructions on how to officially report a suspected cancer cluster in Indiana.
- CDC Review of Johnson County Report
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
- The National Institutes of Health’s National Cancer Institute
- National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences
- National Toxicology Program’s Report on Carcinogens
- Environmental Protection Agency
- Indiana Department of Environmental Health Management
- American Cancer Society
- Indiana Cancer Consortium
- Indiana Breast and Cervical Cancer Program
- Indiana Tobacco Prevention and Cessation Commission
- Center to Reduce Cancer Health Disparities
- National Cancer Institute
- Institute of Medicine
- National Coalition for Cancer Survivorship
- The Patient Advocate Foundation
- The Little Red Door Cancer Agency
- Cancer Support Communities
- Susan G. Komen
- Gilda’s Club South Bend
- Healthy Indiana Plan