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University of Cincinnati Academic Health Center
Publish Date: 06/23/99
Media Contact: AHC Public Relations, (513) 558-4553
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Fernald Medical Monitoring Program Releases Its Cancer Findings

Cincinnati—The Fernald Medical Monitoring Program (FMMP) has released the results of a data analysis of cancer incidence in adult FMMP participants who lived within a five-mile radius of the former Fernald Feeds Materials Production Center for at least a two-year period between 1952 and 1984. The findings show that the number of new urinary system and melanoma cancer cases was greater than expected.

Robert Wones, MD, medical director of the FMMP and professor of internal medicine at the University of Cincinnati (UC) College of Medicine, and Susan Pinney, PhD, program epidemiologist and associate professor of environmental health at the College of Medicine, presented the findings on June 23 to the Fernald Health Effects Subcommittee, a federal committee administered by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). The results were based on medical examinations and questionnaire information that have been collected from 8,500 adult FMMP participants since 1990.

Cancer incidence rates for FMMP participants were compared to expected rates derived from two databases. The National Cancer Institute, which has the largest database for cancer incidence in the US, prepares cancer rates for the US and complete state cancer rates for Iowa and Connecticut. Researchers used the US and Iowa rates for comparison. The second comparison database was from the Ohio Department of Health, Cancer Incidence Surveillance System. The All-Ohio cancer incidence rates as well as combined data from three Ohio counties (Butler, Warren, and Clermont) were used.

According to the findings, 22 cases of new bladder and kidney cancer were found in FMMP participants compared to 13 cases that were expected based on statistics compiled for the three Ohio counties. The researchers found that this increase in urinary system cancer was also evident when compared to US, All-Ohio, and Iowa cancer rates. They also discovered an increase in melanoma cases when compared to the Iowa rates, but the increase was not statistically significant when compared to the three Ohio counties, All-Ohio, and US cancer rates.

The cause of the apparent increase in urinary cancer rates is not known. "Further research must be conducted to determine if exposures from radiological or chemical agents released from the Fernald Plant are related to the observed increases," says Pinney

The study also showed a statistically significant excess of prostate cancer cases among FMMP participants. "These figures probably are the result of the use of a new diagnostic blood test to detect Prostate Specific Antigen (PSA), which allows for physicians to find prostate cancer earlier," says Wones.

The risk of lung cancer has been a concern for residents because of known emissions of radon and uranium into the air from Fernald and a CDC-sponsored dose-reconstruction study that projected a small increase in risk for the disease. However, UC researchers found only 28 new cases of lung cancer compared to the 29.6 expected cases.

"Because the study only followed participants for four years and the relatively small number of cancer cases, we consider this data analysis to be preliminary," explains Pinney. "These findings can be used to formulate hypotheses for future research to determine if a relationship exists between exposures from Fernald and the occurrence of a specific type of cancer."

A second report from the researchers is expected in 2001.


Enrollment in the Fernald Medical Monitoring Program remains open. To be eligible to participate, individuals must have lived or worked within a five-mile radius of the Fernald Center for at least a continuous two-year period between 1952 and 1984. For more information about the program, call 513-241-1628.

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