State health officials are investigating a cluster of childhood leukemia cases in the 75022 and 75028 zip codes after a group of concerned Flower Mound parents contacted the agency in December.
A cancer cluster is defined as a greater than expected number of cancers among people who live or work in the same area and who develop or die from the same cancer within a short time of each other, according to the National Cancer Institute.
“We’re going to be looking at the latest cancer registry data from 1998 to 2007 and comparing it to statewide rates,” said Texas Department of State Health Services spokeswoman Allison Lowery.
If a pattern is found, then a comprehensive study will be conducted of the possible genetic or environmental factors causing the disease. Fewer than five percent of cancer cluster investigations reach the final stage of conducting a comprehensive study, according to the State Health Services website.
Lowery said that the agency did not know the number of current childhood leukemia cases in town, but there have been reports of at least five children living in and near the Wellington development that were diagnosed with leukemia in the last 2 to 4 years.
The analysis is anticipated to be concluded by February, according to Flower Mound officials.
Recent concerns about air quality related to natural gas drilling have focused more attention on Denton County from the state agency.
“We will likely soon be doing another investigation in other parts of Denton County to address health concerns related to the Barnett Shale,” said Lowery.
Leukemia refers to cancers of the white blood cells, resulting in anemia and the increased risk of infection. It accounts for about 25 percent of all childhood cancers and affects about 2,200 young people in the U.S. each year, according to KidsHealth.org.
State Health Services had previously conducted a study on thyroid cancer occurrences in the 75022 zip code and found that the numbers were in line or lower than the normal range for the disease.