Citizen raises concerns about cancer in Carr Lane

Thursday, July 6, 2006

A woman who grew up in the Carr Lane area has contacted the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS) to report what she believes is a high rate of cancer in the small community that lies south of Shell Knob on the Barry-Stone county line.

The person who made the initial contact with the state health department wishes to remain anonymous although she is now distributing patient information sheets among area residents who have had cancer or family members who have lost a relative living in the Carr Lane area to cancer.

Angela Ford, administrator of the Stone County Health Department, said she was aware that one individual had contacted the DHSS about cancer cases in the Carr Lane area.

"Anyone who has a concern can contact the Department of Health and Senior Services and then the department sends out patient information forms routinely," said Ford. "It's up to the individuals who have concerns to get people to fill out the forms and send them back so the Department of Health and Senior Services can analyze them.

"At this time, there is no investigation being conducted and no evidence of any specific clustering of cancer in that area," Ford added.

The woman who contacted the state health agency grew up in the Carr Lane area and her parents still live there. According to a letter mailed to the individual from Victoria Warren, DHSS cancer inquiry coordinator, that individual believes the cancer could be linked to chemicals used to spray trees in the 1940s.

The letter, dated June 26, indicates that the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services is starting a cancer inquiry at the request of the one individual.

"The first step in the cancer inquiry is to collect facts from your community," Warren wrote.

Cancer Patient Information Forms have been mailed out and are to be used to gather information.

"Give the forms to people who have cancer now and who had cancer in the past, and to a close family member of those who died of cancer," wrote Warren. "Please explain why you began this inquiry. Explain that DHSS needs the information to study your concern."

Forms are to be returned directly to DHSS to maintain privacy. Warren asked that forms be returned within four to six weeks.

"If we do not receive any forms within six weeks, we will close the inquiry," Warren explained.

The person making the initial inquiry has also been asked to research what chemicals were sprayed on trees and when the spraying occurred.

"The DHSS will need that information if cancer excess is found," Warren wrote. "And, even if cancer excess is not seen, knowing more about past use of the land can help people to make decisions based on fact, not rumor."

The letter from Warren also contained information about cancer and pointed out the fact that cancer is common, especially in a community that is aging.

Based on data concerning cancer rates, the rate of the number of new cases and the death rate of cancers of all types in Barry County and Stone County are similar to the state rates.

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