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Space-time clustering of childhood cancer in Great Britain: A national study, 1969-1993

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Richard McNallyORCiD


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Previous studies have provided evidence that infections may play a part in the aetiology of certain childhood cancers. The finding of space-time clustering indicates the presence of an environmental component to aetiology and is especially supportive of a role for infections. Space-time clustering occurs when excess numbers of cases of a disease are observed within small geographical locations at limited periods of time and this cannot be explained in terms of general excesses in those locations or at those times. To investigate whether infections may be involved in the aetiology of childhood cancer, we have analysed for space-time clustering using a large set of national population-based data from Great Britain for the period 1969-1993. Data were examined by a second-order procedure based on K-functions, with fixed thresholds of closeness in space (0.5-7.5 km) and closeness in time (0.1-1.5 years). Locations were addresses at diagnosis. Tests were repeated, replacing geographical distances with distances to the 19th-33rd nearest neigh hours and this provided the primary result for each analysis. There were a total of 32,295 cases of childhood cancer. The analyses showed statistically significant evidence of space-time clustering for acute lymphoblastic leukaemia over the whole age range (p = 0.04), but especially for ages 1-4 years (p = 0.03). There was less statistically significant evidence for total leukaemia (p = 0.048). Significant space-time clustering was also evident for soft tissue sarcomas (p = 0.03) and osteosarcomas (p = 0.02). Results support other evidence suggesting a role for infections in the aetiology of these particular diagnostic groups. (c) 2005 Wiley-Liss, Inc.

Publication metadata

Author(s): McNally RJQ, Alexander FE, Bithell JF

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: International Journal of Cancer

Year: 2006

Volume: 118

Issue: 11

Pages: 2840-2846

ISSN (print): 0020-7136

ISSN (electronic): 1097-0215

Publisher: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.


DOI: 10.1002/ijc.21726


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