More Brain Tumors Reported in The Acreage

Two more children in The Acreage have been diagnosed with <"">brain tumors. The news comes just as an investigation into a possible cancer cluster in the Florida community is gearing up.

The residents of The Acreage have been concerned about a cancer cluster since several children living in close proximity to each other were diagnosed with brain tumors or brain cancer. Earlier this summer, residents’ concerns prompted the Florida Department of Health to begin a study of cancer rates in the area.

The results of the first phase were unveiled in late August. According to the Palm Beach Post, investigators found 1,369 cases of all types of cancer among residents in The Acreage between 1995 and 2007. A similar-sized area elsewhere in Florida could be expected to have 1,055 cases in that time, the Post said. The report revealed six cases of brain cancer in children 14 and younger from 1997 to 2007. Of those, three were diagnosed in 2008, the report said.

Those findings were enough to convince the health department to launch a second phase of the cancer cluster study. That phase began earlier this month, and health officials have been interviewing the families of 13 children previously diagnosed with cancer. All of the children were younger than 18 when diagnosed with a brain tumor or brain cancer from 1993-2008. Interviews are expected to be complete by January 1.

According to The Miami Herald, the latest brain tumor victims in The Acreage are a 13-year-old girl and a boy the same age. The girl, who had been suffering from headaches, had a tumor removed before Thanksgiving. The boy’s tumor was discovered after he suffered a seizure last Wednesday, and his tumor was removed on Friday. Both families are still waiting results of pathology reports.

According to the Herald, these two children are not part of the cancer cluster study. But the health officials will note new cases reported to the Florida Cancer Data Registry, which gathers reports of tumors from physicians across the state.

People in the area have speculated that a nearby Pratt & Whitney jet engine plant and/or citrus groves in the area, which used potentially dangerous pesticides for decades, may have tainted well water in the area. There were also concerns about soil contamination. As we reported previously, tests on wells conducted by the state Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) did not reveal any toxins, but tests on four wells did reveal levels of alpha particles, radium-226 or radium-228, that exceed drinking water standards. Radium-226 and radium-228 are naturally occurring radioactive metals that could cause cancer at elevated levels.

The four wells where elevated levels of radium-225 or radium-228 were detected did not appear to be near the locations where residents have reported brain cancer in children. The DEP said the contamination may require homeowners with affected wells to install water treatment systems. Ground water in the community was deemed safe by the DEP.

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