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Last Edited: 4/28/2009

Cancer Incidence in Sand Canyon: A Review of Cases Ascertained by Local Residents
Written: 1991


The California Department of Health Services (DHS) reviewed a list of cancer cases ascertained by Sand Canyon residents to assess persistent concerns that contaminants from the Space Ordnance Systems (SOS) site might have been responsible for elevated numbers of cancer cases. Of the list of 72 cancer cases collected, 60 (83%) met specific inclusion criteria and 42 (58%) were confirmed after careful efforts to track them. Overall, the number of cancer cases observed from 1972-1988 (a 17-year period) in Sand Canyon is lower than the number expected. However, the observed numbers of leukemia and non-Hodgkin’s lymphomas exceeded the expected numbers, especially in the 0-19 year old age group. Proportional incidence calculations corroborate this excess of leukemias and non-Hodgkin’s lymphomas.

Cancer cases did not geographically cluster around the SOS site or points where contamination was measured. Furthermore, according the previous reports, no environmental contamination was measured at levels of toxicological concern. This review supports conclusions from previous reports that, while there are some increased numbers of specific types of cancer in Sand Canyon, there is not evidence incriminating an environmental exposure. Elevated numbers of leukemias and non-Hodgkin’s lymphomas are most likely due to natural fluctuations in the occurrence of these rare diseases, or unmeasured exposures unique to the individual cases.

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