What is the relationship between cancer and environmental exposures?
Very few cancers are known to be caused solely by environmental chemicals. The best known example of this is a type of cancer called mesothelioma, which is almost always associated with asbestos exposure. However, most cancer is caused by some combination of genetic factors, personal behaviors, and environmental factors. This makes it hard in most cases to determine whether a particular cancer in one person is due to environmental factors. This question is also complicated because in many cases the exposure that might have caused the cancer took place years or decades before the individual developed cancer symptoms. Since the Maryland Cancer Registry reports contain the individual’s home address at the time of diagnosis, an investigation “looking back” at home residence locations in the Maryland Cancer Registry would be limited to cases residing in the area of interest at the time of diagnosis and would miss persons who may have lived elsewhere at the time of diagnosis. This makes it harder to figure out how to interpret current exposure information because the exposure that might have caused the disease took place years, even decades, in the past.

Show All Answers

1. What did the CDC’s Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) find in their 2009 Public Health Assessment?
2. Who is responsible for collecting information about cancer?
3. What is a cancer “cluster?”
4. How are cancer cluster concerns investigated in Maryland?
5. What is the relationship between cancer and environmental exposures?
6. What are the cancer rates in Frederick?
7. What was the scope of the preliminary cancer cluster investigation by the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DHMH)?
8. Why was 2000 the earliest year of analysis in the preliminary report of the initial cancer cluster investigation?
9. What were the preliminary findings of the DHMH cancer data analysis?
10. Is the risk of non-cancer health conditions being assessed?
11. If significant excess cancers are found in a specific geographic area within the county, then what?
12. Who can I talk to for more information?