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A geographical analysis of breast cancer clustering in southern Ontario: generating hypotheses on environmental influences

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This article presents the results of spatial analysis of breast cancer clustering in southern Ontario. Data from the Cancer Care Ontario were analyzed using the Scan Statistic at the level of county, with further analysis conducted within counties that were identified as primary clusters at the dissemination area level. The results identified five counties as primary clusters of women diagnosed with breast cancer between 1986 and 2002: Essex (relative risk [RR] = 1.096–1.061; p < 0.001), Lambton (RR = 1.05–1.167), Chatham-Kent (RR = 1.133–1.191), Niagara (RR = 1.228–1.290) and Toronto (RR = 1.152–1.146). The within county analysis revealed several DAs with significantly higher (RR > 3, p < 0.05) rates of breast cancer, and supports our hypothesis that breast cancer risk in southern Ontario may be associated with industrial and environmental (such as pesticides) pollutants. Further research is needed to verify the environmental links within the identified clusters.
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Keywords: breast cancer; environmental pollution; southern Ontario; spatial analysis

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Department of Geography,The University of Western Ontario, London,ON, CanadaN6A 3K7 2: School of Social Work, University of Windsor, Windsor,ON, Canada 3: Cancer Surveillance Unit, Cancer Care Ontario, Toronto, ON,Canada, 4: Windsor Regional Cancer Centre, Windsor,ON, Canada 5: Department of Surgery,University of Toronto and Surgical Oncologist, Sunnybrook and Women's College Health Sciences Centre, Toronto,ON, Canada

Publication date: June 1, 2012

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