One of the beneficial things about social media is that people talk TO each other rather than AT each other.

A group of residents on Facebook have begun wondering aloud if there is indeed a cancer cluster in Egg Harbor Township.

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Photo by Angiola Harry on Unsplash
Photo by Angiola Harry on Unsplash

What is a cancer cluster?

According to the American Cancer Society, the definition of a cancer cluster is this:

"The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the National Cancer Institute (NCI) define a cancer cluster as a greater-than-expected number of cancer cases that occurs within a group of people in a defined geographic area over a specific period of time. Each part of this definition is important."

The Society's website says a true cancer cluster should have these characteristics:

  • There is a larger than expected number of a specific type of cancer (or types of cancer that are known to have a common cause).
  • There are several cases of a rare type of cancer.
  • The cancers are a type that is not usually seen in a certain group of people (for example, children getting a cancer usually seen in adults).


Google Maps
Google Maps

Egg Harbor Township residents talking about a neighborhood as a possible cluster

Residents are talking and sharing information on the Facebook Group, Original Egg Harbor Township Area Happenings 08234.

The original author posted about being curious about people living in the Robert Best Road/Zion Road area, wondering if a lot of people have had cancer.

The responses in the first 14 hours of the posting have been tremendous. Over 275 people have commented - with many saying they have or are aware of area people who have or had cancer.

Many people have spoken about questions about the water in the area - particularly well water. There has also been a lot of discussion about the city's golf course, built on Ocean Heights Avenue on top of a former garbage dump.

While scientifically, no conclusions can be drawn by people commenting on social media, it certainly does make one question the idea of a cancer cluster.

If you're interested in reading the comments, you can join the Facebook group here.  The group is private, and you have to apply to join.

Photo by Louis Reed on Unsplash
Photo by Louis Reed on Unsplash

What area residents can do now does say that people concerned about a possible cancer cluster can report the possibility, but it takes some organization and work.

Someone in the area would need to reach out to local or state departments of health. The site says here is some information that would need to be addressed:

  • The type(s) and number of cancers involved
  • Any suspected exposure(s) that might cause cancer
  • The area and time period in which the cases occurred
  • Specific information about each person thought to be affected
  • Specific information about the cancers themselves

Reviews and investigations would then follow. You can learn more about the procedure here.

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