Are the number of glioblastoma cases higher than they should be? Or expected for our area?
Now, the Florida Department of Health in St. Lucie County says it has a preliminary answer.
But, dozens of local families who have experienced glioblastoma still have a lot of questions.
State health officials have been reviewing millions of health records in the Florida Cancer Data System for the last five weeks, conducting a local-level assessment of glioblastoma cancer occurrence among Florida residents diagnosed between 1996 and 2015 in St. Lucie County.
From this assessment, no statistically significant excess of glioblastoma was found in any of the local areas of St. Lucie County. This assessment also showed that the occurrence of glioblastoma cancer in all local areas in St. Lucie County mirrored what is to be expected given the population size and demographics.
Moving forward, the Florida Department of Health in St. Lucie County will continue to work with the state central office and other state and local partners to review other relevant public health data to better understand the occurrence of glioblastoma locally and address the needs of local residents.
Health officials stress this is not the end of the investigation.
Stephanie Cunningham is among the local family members disappointed by this information.
“Honestly, I knew it may happen, but I’m a little bit shocked,” Cunningham said.
She said she still does not understand how some of the cases could be in such close proximity.
“Same street, a house apart from each other, directly behind each other, and a couple streets down. I don’t think that’s normal,” Cunningham said.
Local doctors also thought the numbers were higher than they should be. Dr. Ozskar Szentirmai said now, he would like to see that the health department data is validated, and cross referenced with hospital information to be sure they have the most complete data possible.
There are a couple potential gaps in the state data. If someone from the county was diagnosed out of state, they would not be included in the Florida Cancer Data System
The database, for now, also does not include cases after 2015.
WPTV has shared the numbers with the health department that it has collected from viewers coming forward about glioblastoma cases they are aware of to fill the gap between 2016-2018. For now, the numbers are right around the average number of cases the health department said it would expect.
Doctor Mark Perman’s data that was shared with WPTV on the number of local cases he has seen is also similar to the number of cases the health department said it expects.
But still of concern, some of the younger ages more recently diagnosed.
The majority of the cases between 1996 and 2015 were reported among adults age 60 or older. At least 4 cases diagnosed since 2016 affected people younger than 40.
The gliomastoma support group in St. Lucie County will be meeting with health officials this week to ask more questions.
“I'm not gonna stop fighting for them,” Cunningham said.
For more information about the Florida Cancer Data System, click here .
You can request to join the Glioblastoma of St. Lucie County support group, here .