A research team from Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health is conducting a case study about the 2010 Fort Detrick cancer cluster investigation and has invited community members to participate.
The goal is to gather a public health oral history, said Beth Resnick, principal investigator and director of the Johns Hopkins Office of Public Health Practices.
“This is a way to profile people’s stories about cancer cluster investigations and how that impacts the community,” Resnick said.
The three-person team includes a master’s student, Brian Simpson, who is editor of Johns Hopkins Public Health magazine, and Patricia Truant, a Ph.D. student. The project is limited to about 20 people, including community members and professionals who conduct cancer cluster investigations. The interviews are voluntary and will take about an hour, according to Resnick.
The team will create a website about cancer cluster investigations, using Fort Detrick as a case study. Articles are planned for Johns Hopkins Public Health magazine, and a peer-reviewed public health journal. The project is being conducted on a small scale because it has no funding, Resnick said.
Cancer cluster investigations rarely indicate a link between environment and cancer, Resnick said. Other communities have gone through similar studies, and Resnick hopes this project can be applied to those communities at some point.
Dr. Barbara Brookmyer, head of the Frederick County Health Department, spearheaded the cancer cluster investigation, and asked Resnick to follow up with an oral history. The idea, Brookmyer said, was the brainchild of an advisory group who meets regularly to talk about the cancer study.
“The committee said a year ago that it would be great if we could capture some stories from the older folks involved, but they hadn’t made much progress on it,” Brookmyer said. She broached the topic with Resnick, a professional colleague, who thought it would work well as a thesis project.
The cancer cluster study is not over, despite some who believe the study showed no link to groundwater pollution caused by Fort Detrick, Brookmyer said. The study only used cancer data from 1992 to 2008, and included an area within a 1-mile radius of the base.
“Any statement is limited to that time period,” Brookmyer said, “and to 1 to 2 mile radius, and the way we group the cancers ... it is not an accurate statement that this covers all years, and all types of cancer.”
The next step she said is to further investigate a rise in lymphoma between 1992 and 2008 and what, if anything, she said, contributed to it.
For more information about the Johns Hopkins project, contact Resnick at 410-614-5454 or email@example.com. For more information on the Detrick cancer cluster study, visit www.frederickcountymd.gov, and go to the Health Department page.