Family researching possible cancer cluster hears from health officials

(KATV) Earlier this month, we shared the story of sisters who grew up in North Little Rock and believe there is a cancer cluster in the Indian Hills neighborhood.

KATV Feb. 6: Sisters researching possible cancer cluster in North Little Rock

A cancer cluster is defined as a greater-than-expected number of the same cancer, within an area, over a period of time.

Just with their research, the women have found 9 pancreatic cancer cases in a mile radius. Since Channel Seven aired the story, the total is 18.

Tuesday, officials with the Arkansas Department of Health (ADH) spoke with the women about the department's investigation. The sisters, Christine Keene, Lisa McAteer and Sally Lutes believe run off from the North Little Rock landfill has contaminated the creek that flows through the neighborhood. The landfill has been under closure procedure since the 90's.

After both their parents died of pancreatic cancer the sisters started researching the landfill and found pollution violations and fines.

Tuesday, they learned the ADH is only looking into a time period of 2006 through 2010. The sisters say it dilutes the data they have worked on. For example, their parents cases are not included in the investigation.

Christine Keene, Lisa McAteer and Sally Lutes gave Channel Seven this statement:

"We are very disappointed in the lack of thoroughness that was given to our concerns by the Arkansas Department of Health. The results of their investigation are not exactly what we had hoped for; however, they are NOT closing the investigation, but rather presenting their findings to their expert advisory panel to look at additional details. We are requesting they reach out for input from additional professionals with more experience in cancer cluster investigations in smaller, focused areas such as ours, as the ADH acknowledged that they have never performed this type of investigation for any type of cancer.

We are disappointed that the data they collected only looks at a time period of 2006-2010, and in addition references areas that are not of concern in our case, which we feel dilutes the data.

This further reinforces a need to reach out to people who lived in the area and moved away because, for example, our parents, two of the pancreatic cancer cases in the area, were not included in the data since they had moved out of state prior to being diagnosed.

Although we are disappointed, we are not disheartened. As we said last week, we will redouble our efforts to this cause. We have asked the ADH to look specifically at census tract 37.12 (see previous post with images), and include data for 2000-the current date."


The sisters goal is to raise awareness and find all the pancreatic cancer cases in the area.


In December, they started a Facebook page to raise awareness.{}