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Feb 28, 2016 9:51 AM

NH health investigation finds pediatric 'cancer cluster' along the Seacoast

PORTSMOUTH - A state Health and Human Services investigation has revealed what state officials are calling a pediatric cancer cluster on the Seacoast.

State Epidemiologist Dr. Benjamin Chan told, “By definition, being the fact it’s a rare cancer and there’s a higher than expected small number of cases, it would meet the definition of a cancer cluster."

The state released a 14-page report after investigating pediatric cancer cases in Rye, Portsmouth, Greenland, New Castle and North Hampton, discovering "a small number of excess pediatric RMS cancer cases." RMS cancer is a form of soft tissue cancer that can occur in children and adults.

While tracking the RMS cases, investigators also a higher-than-expected number of pediatric lung cancer cases, which, according to the report were “of a single rare type called pleuropulmonary blastoma (PPB).” But while the numbers were higher than expected, there were still less than five cases over 10 years.

Chan said he didn't believe that the cancers were caused by environmental exposure. However, state health experts don't know why the children were diagnosed with the cancers. The Department of Human and Health Services will continue to monitor the cases, but won't do any further health studies right now.

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