NBC 10 I-Team: New North Providence cancer numbers released
The Rhode Island Department of Health released the results of a new analysis of cancer cases in North Providence, following an NBC 10 I-Team investigation into the concerns of dozens of teachers and former students who were diagnosed with cancer.
The conclusion: rates of cancer in both men and women living in the town over a 20-year period were lower than expected.
More than 20 current and former teachers and staff who worked in James L. McGuire and Dr. Joseph A. Whelan elementary schools reached out to the NBC 10 I-Team in 2017, concerned their cancers could be linked to something inside the schools. Most were diagnosed with breast or ovarian cancer.
Following NBC 10’s coverage, more than 50 former students who graduated from North Providence High School told the I-Team they had also recently been diagnosed with the same types of cancers.
“In response to some concerns voiced by the community last summer, we are going to continue monitoring the data in these datasets regularly,” said Joseph Wendelken, who is the public information officer for RIDOH.
Epidemiologists found the total number of diagnosed tumors in women living in North Providence between 1995 and 2016 was 1,081, which is lower than the expected range of 1,130 to 1,202. For men, the total number of cases was 854, below the expected range of 919 to 1,025.
The new analysis, which was released Thursday, follows a smaller study of 878 teachers who worked in North Providence schools. That earlier analysis found cancer cases were “on the higher end of the expected range,” Wendelken said.
For female teachers, 60 cancer cases were found, with an expected range of 36 to 63. The number of breast cancer cases, 29, was also on the higher end of the expected range for that particular type of cancer, Wendelken told NBC 10.
In the most recent analysis of the entire Town of North Providence, RIDOH used data from the National Cancer Institute’s Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results Program, or SEER, as well as the Rhode Island Cancer Registry.
“We will continue to work closely with the Mayor’s office, and will certainly keep…the community up to date throughout,” Wendelken said.