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Am J Epidemiol. 1990 Jul;132(1 Suppl):S23-31.

A public health response to cancer clusters in Missouri.

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Division of Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Missouri Department of Health, Columbia 65203.


A protocol was developed in 1984 by the Missouri Department of Health to provide a systematic method for responding to citizen reports of cancer clusters. This protocol integrates public health and environmental expertise and includes two stages: the preliminary review and the investigation. The preliminary review is focused on problem definition and hypothesis generation. Cancer mortality and incidence data are reviewed. Information is gathered and verified through the efforts of citizens, local health officials, environmental staff, and the cancer program staff. Epidemiologic factors evaluated include type of cancer, temporal and spatial relations, population at risk, community profile, and possible environmental and occupational factors. The investigation is an expanded analytic study. Resources are focused on cancer inquiries that appear most likely to involve manageable common exposures. Program experience and protocol development highlights, including surveillance system improvement and educational programming, are described.

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