Seacoast Residents Seek Answers After Cancer Cluster Identified

RYE, N.H. —Seacoast families are hoping to get answers about a cluster of rare pediatric cancers in the area.

A study by the Department of Health and Human Services showed that children are getting a pair of rare cancers at a slightly higher rate than normal in a five-town area.

A community meeting about the cluster is being held Thursday night in Rye. Residents plan to create work groups and coordinate experts to examine issues such as possible environmental triggers.

Susan Kindstedt, of Rye, said her oldest and youngest children battled a rare pediatric lung cancer known as PPB in early 2014.

“My daughter actually finished chemo a year ago last week,” she said. “And my son, because his was caught at the earliest stage, he didn’t get chemo. He’s just being monitored following his surgery.”

The children were included in the recent study that identified a slightly higher than average number of cases of the two rare types of pediatric cancer. After a meeting in March, DHHS broadened its scope.

Residents said they want testing for possible environmental triggers, such as the Coakley landfill, a Superfund site on the Rye-Greenland border. State Rep. Tom Sherman has asked the Environmental Protection Agency to test for PFOAs, a contaminant of emerging concern.

“I’m not trying to scare anybody, but I just want a comprehensive look at this,” he said.

Pease International Tradeport, the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard, Seabrook Plant and Schiller Station are also potential concerns listed by residents.

“If there’s a problem, maybe we can figure out what it is before it becomes even bigger, because it’s heartbreaking as it is at this point,” said Kelly Halldorson, of Rye. “And again, maybe nothing will be found, but at least we’re trying.”

A DHHS representative is expected to attend Thursday night’s meeting.


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