Cancer Cluster Description and Factors

The term “cancer cluster” describes the condition when the incidence of cancer occurs in higher numbers than expected in a specific geographic area within a particular time frame. These clusters may also be particular to a workplace or a group of people, such as a family.

Families or members of a community often report cancer clusters when cancer is diagnosed in more than one individual in the group. The individuals often feel the need to explain the reason behind the cancer diagnosis and sometimes look at chemicals in the environment to explain the cause of the cancer diagnosis.

It is rare for these cases to be an actual cancer cluster and more often the situation is just coincidental. The forms of cancer are often not even related.

The high incidence of cancer in the United States and worldwide makes it common for individuals in a specific geographic area or even in a shared workplace to get cancer. If the cancer rate continues as it is today at least one in every 10 children born will acquire cancer within their lifetime. This fact could explain the phenomenon of cancer occurring repeatedly in geographic areas or within certain groups of people.

There are over 100  types of cancer. Each form of the disease may have a different cause as well as different rates of occurrence and survival. Some forms of cancer are caused by environmental factors but many others may be caused by genetics and some cases are caused by a combination of both factors. Each type of cancer occurs and reacts in very different ways therefore it is not reasonable to believe a common cause is to blame for every occurrence in a particular group.