Study: Ewing sarcoma rate not higher than expected in Canon-McMillan School District
The Pennsylvania Department of Health on Monday attempted to allay concerns about the incidence of a rare cancer in Washington County and the Canon-McMillan School District.
A health department spokesman said a new study of a group of Ewing sarcoma cases in and around the district found the rates were “not consistently and significantly higher” than the incidence rates across the state when researchers analyzed statistics for three different time periods.
Officials said they take concerns about such cancers seriously and will continue to closely monitor the situation over the next several years as new data is gathered.
The incidence of the cancer that has no known risk factors — about 200 to 250 new cases are diagnosed in children and young adults each year in the United States — raised questions with families facing the daunting diagnosis after they learned six cases had been diagnosed in and around the Canon-McMillan School District over the last 10 years.
The health department study was the second to look at the incidence of the type of cancer that attacks the bones and surrounding soft tissues.
A study released earlier this year reached the same conclusions after looking at 12 cases of Ewing sarcoma that were diagnosed in southeastern Westmoreland County between 2011 and early 2018.
The Washington County study also reviewed the incidence of other childhood cancers and radiation-related cancers after concerned citizens mentioned the area once had a uranium processing plant, and continues to have a disposal area under federal agency oversight.
The Washington County study analyzed data from three time periods— 1985 to 1994, 1995 to 2004 and 2005 to 2017.
“Based on the data we currently have, when compared to incidence rates for the rest of the Pennsylvania population, male and female incidence rates for the Ewing’s family of tumors and childhood cancers in Washington County and Canon-McMillan School District were not consistently and statistically significantly higher than expected in all three time periods analyzed,” researchers wrote
When they looked at incidence rates for some other types of what they deemed radiation-related cancers — including breast, colon, gallbladder, liver, lung, oral stomach and ovarian cancers as well as leukemia myeloma and NHL — researchers said the rates in Washington County and Canon-McMillan were “somewhat higher than expected.” But they said the rates were not statistically significantly higher in either gender group or in the three time periods analyzed.
Deb Erdley is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Deb at 724-850-1209, [email protected] or via Twitter .