Breast Cancer Cluster in Omaha?

Click link below for information on the Nebraska Cancer Registry:


Click link below for information on the Iowa Cancer Registry:

For years - researchers have been trying to pinpoint what causes so many women to get breast cancer -- one in eight get it.

One group of women in the same neighborhood asked "Fact Finders" to investigate whether something about where they lived caused the cancer.

Shari Anderson: "I was diagnosed with triple negative breast cancer in december 2010. It was a shock."

Jenny Adams: "April 2009 - estrogen fed breast cancer."

Carolyn Wais: "4 ½ years ago I was diagnosed with estrogen fed breast cancer."

By all accounts - the three women were in good health when doctors told them they had breast cancer.

Jenny: "More and more we're finding ladies with breast cancer in this two-block radius."

As they shared their story with others, it got them thinking.

Jenny: "We have four women who live across the street from one another with breast cancer. It makes you wonder what is going on. Is it in the soil? Is it in the water?"

Shari: "It's a cluster. Almost like a cancer cluster."

The three have lived on Decatur Street at 63rd for more than 20 years. They raised their families here.

Decades ago - they say - this used to be a landfill.

Could that be the cause of breast cancer?

"To my knowledge, there's no cluster," said UNMC Eppley Cancer Center director Ken Cowan. "The incidents of breast cancer in America are high enough that just having a small group of women - even in a neighborhood - doesn't necessarily mean there is something immediately in their environment that's dangerous for them or their children."

Cowan certainly understands the worry for these neighbors. Studies -- however -- have not shown any cause between landfills and breast cancer. "There are environmental factors that can influence this risk. We just don't know - and researchers haven't figured out - what those are."

For the neighbors - that's comforting to hear since they worry about their children who grew up here. But that won't stop them from trying to figure out why they got breast cancer.

Right now their energy is on Carolyn. Her cancer recently came back. "I still have faith that we will get through this part of it."

Here's some of what researchers know will increase a woman's risk of breast cancer:

1. Being overweight.
2. Drink excessive amounts of alcohol
3. If you menstruate before the age of 12
4. If you waited until you're 26 to have children
5. Genetics

Dr. Cowan says it's also important to remind friends and families how early detection boosts survival rates -- especially in Nebraska where the rates of breast cancer are higher than the national average. That includes annual mammograms if you're over forty -- and self-checks.

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