CDC to investigate possible 'cancer cluster' in Southeast Georgia

On Your Side, Ken Amaro reports on March 14, 2016

WAYCROSS, Ga. -- For the many faces of the dreadful disease cancer, there are more questions than answers -- especially in parts of Southeast Georgia.

"How could they all be getting this kind of cancer?" asked Ellen Walker.

Walker's 5-year-old grandson, Gage, was diagnosed last summer with rhabdomyosarcoma, a rare form of cancer. "I think it has got to do something with the air and the water," Walker said.

The alarming number of children recently diagnosed with cancer in and near Ware County has attracted the attention of health officials, state representative Jason Spencer and community activists.

Gage is one of three children in and around Ware County that were diagnosed with the same disease in a 58-day period. A fourth child was diagnosed with Ewing's sarcoma.

Usually, only 350 cases of Rhabdomyosarcoma are found in the United States each year.

"I think it is time we do some testing," said Ware County resident Nihila Rose, a cancer survivor and community activist.

Rose said the community deserves answers and she he hopes the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry team will be able to provide those answers.

"The main thing we want them to accomplish is to find out where the contamination is coming from," said Rose.

The agency, working with Georgia Public Health, will investigate the Atlanta Gas Light Sites and the CSX rail yard.

On Tuesday, the agency will hold a public hearing at the Georgia State College Campus in Waycross. It's an opportunity for residents to address their concerns and experiences with investigators.

They're trying to determine if there's an environmental hazard and if that hazard is contributing to the health problems. "I feel there's something here," said Rose.

Rose would like investigators to also test the water wells in the community.

"There has got to be something causing all these cancers in the area," said Rose. "I know there is something here."

If you'd like to meet with investigators in Waycross on Tuesday, they're available between 2-4 p.m. and 6-8 p.m.


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