County health officials promised a plan of action to hundreds of Carlsbad residents who attended a forum Wednesday night addressing concerns of a cancer cluster in their community.
More than 300 people attended the meeting at Calavera Hills Middle School where a panel of health experts from the county and the state answered questions. At times, some residents shouted at health officials demanding to know what actions were being taken to find a cause.
"My husband died of lymphoma in 2008, I've actually had four dogs die of lymphoma," lifelong Carlsbad resident Gina Walters said outside the meeting. "My husband's mother died of colon cancer. We have three people on our block who currently have cancer. I have breast cancer. My neighbor has breast cancer."
Walters isn't alone. Other people who attended the meeting have similar stories about cancer, and what they view as an unusually high number of cases in their city.
"We need a good investigation," said John Quartarone. "We want the water tested, the soil tested, the air tested, to see what's going on." Quartarone's 16-year old son, Chase, died of lymphoma last December. He was one of four students at Carlsbad High School who have been diagnosed with lymphoma in the past three years.
Quartarone said four students at Kelly Elementary have also died within the past two years from various forms of cancer.
"We definitely want to work with the community to make sure that there's nothing out in the community that could be causing cancer," said Dr. Dean Sidelinger, the county's deputy of public health officer.
County health officials promised a "plan of action" in 30 days. Others said that if the county didn't do soil tests soon, they would pay for private tests, according to our media partner the North County Times.
County officials said they were focused on collecting cancer diagnosis data, and would be studying that information before deciding whether to conduct soil or other types of environmental tests.
The state official who investigates possible cancer clusters was also on hand to answer questions. Dr. Thomas Mack said there have been previous investigations and none of them have shown any unusual spikes in cancer cases.
Dr. Mack is currently counting the number of cases to help determine if there is a cancer problem. "I've seen a pattern that is very typical of southern California," he said.
Others believe there is something unusual and they think the environment has something to do with it. "There's too many people dying in small areas that are dying of cancer," said Gina Walters.