Detecting Spatial Clusters of Cancer Mortality in East Baton Rouge Parish, Louisiana
According to the Louisiana State Center for Health Statistics (1998), overall age-adjusted mortality rates for Louisiana’s major causes of death over the past five years indicate an increase in cancer-related deaths. This has generated great concern from the citizens in the state. In East Baton Rouge Parish, questions were raised on whether the heavy petrochemical industry, increased air pollution, increased population growth, and increased need for transportation were related to the increase in cancer-related deaths. Before an intense epidemiological study is launched, a key question will need to be answered: do these cancer deaths tend to concentrate spatially? If so, where are the clusters and what characterize them? If significant spatial clusters are identified, then further in-depth epidemiological studies can be conducted to investigate what causes these clusters. On the contrary, if no significant clusters are found, further in-depth investigation may be useless. Therefore, spatial techniques that measure the spatial structure of cancer patterns and detect clusters can be a useful surveillance or hypothesis-generating tool for environmental and public health investigations.
KeywordsCancer Mortality Census Tract Block Group Spatial Cluster Lung Cancer Mortality
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