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September 19, 2014
Wake Forest

Wake Forest High School, NC Cancer Cluster 2013. What if kids playing tennis hit the ball over the fence and have to run under the high voltage power lines to get the ball?

Three Wake students battle rare cancer: Cluster or coincidence?

— A Wake Forest mother is pushing the state to investigate after three teenagers from the same graduating class were diagnosed with an extremely rare form of cancer. A fourth teen who lived nearby received the same diagnosis in 2009.

The teens, all of whom lived within a 3- to 4-mile radius of each other, battled Ewing’s sarcoma – a cancer so rare that only about 250 people in the U.S. are diagnosed with it each year.

Robin Harris, whose son Alex Harris was diagnosed in March 2011, reported concerns about a possible cancer cluster to her son’s doctor at Duke University Hospital, the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services and a sarcoma organization.

“Statistically, it’s unbelievable … Someone needs to look at it and say, ‘Hey, we need to investigate this,’” Robin Harris said.

She and the other families say they were under the assumption that the cases would be investigated. Robin Harris says she was told the cases would be referred to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The WRAL Investigates team found that the state did not do a thorough investigation, the CDC was not informed of the cases and the families were kept in the dark due to an “unfortunate oversight,” according to a DHHS spokeswoman.

Ewing’s sarcoma is a childhood cancer found in the bone or soft tissue and usually strikes children, mostly white boys, between the ages of 10 and 20. Some symptoms include pain or swelling in the arm, leg, chest, back or pelvis and a fever or broken bone for no reason, according to Researchers understand little about the cancer, but they don’t think it’s hereditary.

Carly O’Day, now a freshman at East Carolina University, was diagnosed with Ewing’s sarcoma two months before her high school classmate Alex. Another classmate, Zach Osborne, was the third to be diagnosed.

“I’m thinking there has to be something up,” Zach said.

Zach, Carly and Alex went to the same middle and high schools together. The trio shared a class in a trailer during their freshman year at Wake Forest-Rolesville High School in 2007-08, but that is the only place they can remember where all three were together over an extended period of time.

power-lines_ENI wonder if constantly playing and running around and through that magnetic field is good for children;s developing brains?Some of that tennis court and track don’t appear to be much more that 20m away from the high voltage power lines.

From → Biology, Geophysics

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