The Union County Health Department (UCHD) is getting tough on pediatric cancer.
UCHD Health Commissioner Jason Orcena said the board had already become aware of the pediatric cancer issue in Union County. However, there has been a recent rise in concern among residents in the county. Pediatric is defined as encompassing children ages 0 to 19.
“The community may recognize something is going on long before the numbers show that something’s going on,” he said. “Anytime someone brings the issue forward, you have to take it seriously and try to look at what’s available and try to get some information out.”
How many pediatric cancer cases are there?
Union County experienced 55 new pediatric cases from 1996 to 2014.
Orcena said that number does not represent an upward trend in the county.
Those 55 cases represented the second highest number among several surronding counties, excluding Franklin, according to information from the Ohio Department of Health. Delaware County had the highest number of pediatric cancer cases during that time frame, totaling 150 cases, though its population is much greater than Union County.
Each county has its own varying population size and growth numbers to take into consideration. Orcena said cancer rate numbers for smaller counties can be dramatically affected by a sudden influx of cases in a given year.
According to the state’s department of health, between 1996 and 2014, Union County had about 10 pediatric cancer cases per 10,000 residents. The same soures indicate Logan County had 9.6 pediatric cancer cases per 10,000 residents, Hardin had 8.5, Champaign had 8.2 children, Delaware had 7.9 children and Madison had 7.7 children.
According to data, Union County’s most prevalent case of pediatric cancer, besides its “other sites/ types” category, is leukemia, totaling at 16 cases experienced from 1996 to 2016. Leukemia is also the most common case of pediatric cancer in Marysville, as the city experiences 13 cases.
Explanation and solutions
Orcena said there is a small, anomalous spike in cases from 2015 to 2016. He said the rates are unpredictable as well. For example, he said some years could have zero cases reported, while other years could have as many as six cases reported.
“It creates problems when looking at the data and drawing conclusions,” he said.
He said it’s normal Marysville would see the most number of pediatric cancer cases within the county, as it’s the most densely populated and fastest growing area in the county.
Orcena said the problem the county experiences with cancer is that, unlike infectious diseases, there aren’t listed causes for it, and instead risks.
With risks highlighted, he said adult cancer is easier to trace, be it through smoking, diet or exposure to other carcinogenic elements. However, he said tracing the causes of child cancer is more difficult.
To raise awareness in the community, he said the UCHD will start hosting public forums to talk about pediatric cancer within later this year or early in 2018. He said the forums will present local data and share the UCHD’s cancer investigation process and findings. There will also be a medical expert from the Ohio State University or Nationwide Children’s Hospital attending the forums.
“I don’t mean this as a criticism to folks we’re talking to, but it’s hard to gain commitment and interest on this topic,” he said. “The state, though we’ve had to prod and push, has done very well with providing information.
In other news, there will be a special meeting held Nov. 30, starting at 3:30 p.m., to review the 2018 budget.
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