Cancer rates investigated in Pierce and Ware counties

Preliminary results of an investigation by the Georgia Department of Public Health (GDPH) concluded that there is not an apparent connection between the cancers that have been diagnosed in nine Pierce and Ware County children, from 2011-2013.   

The report showed that there were two cases in Ware County and seven cases in Pierce. While the number of cases in Ware County was well within the normal average for this time period, the number of cases in Pierce County was above average for the same time period.   

The investigation started in February, after Public Health received numerous reports from residents of a perceived increase in cancer among children in Pierce and Ware counties. Residents voiced concerns to the GDPH that “something” must be causing the cancers in the children. 

The investigation looked at cases reported to the agency as well as cases GDPH officials discovered during the investigation. The number of cases reviewed was nine. The investigation showed that the cases varied in “types” of cancers in both counties. That, along with varying known risk factors, such as where the children lived and known causes of those cancers, led GDPH investigators to conclude the cancers were unlikely to be connected.  

Two of the seven Pierce County children did live relatively close together and had the same type of cancer. However, the particular type of leukemia both were diagnosed with is the most commonly diagnosed childhood cancer. The investigation also showed that both children fell within the typical risk group described for this type of cancer (white males under the age of 3). 

In the conclusion of its report, the GDPH and its Georgia Comprehensive Cancer Registry recommend that the Pierce County childhood cancer rates continue to be monitored to see if the overall rates return to normal. GDPH officials also encourage residents to educate themselves on the causes of childhood cancers. 

The complete summary of the GDPH’s Cancer Inquiry for Pierce and Ware Counties can be found below.  


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Southeast Health District
1101 Church Street
Waycross, GA 31501
P: 912-285-6002
F: 912-284-2980

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