St. Luke's University Health Network

News

Local Oncologist Participates in Research

Local Oncologist Participates in Research Study

Goal is to Tie Environmental Factors to Rare Blood Cancer Incidence in Schuylkill and Luzerne Counties

Paul I. Roda, MD, FACP, participated in a research study for a federal agency as a number of cases of a rare bone marrow cancer called polycythemia vera (PV) have been diagnosed in individuals who live in close proximity to the McAdoo Associates Superfund site.

Dr. Roda indicated that the study demonstrated that an increased rate of PV existed in Luzerne and Schuylkill counties, with a cluster around the McAdoo Associates Superfund site. As such, the study is the first to suggest that PV may be caused by a toxic substance in the environment, according to Roda.

“In addition, this is the first major study to utilize a molecular test to tell which patients with a high red count had PV as opposed to secondary polycythemia which is a reaction to something else, usually a lung disease such as emphysema,” said Dr. Roda.

Patient data came from the State's Cancer Registry, after PV was defined as a bone marrow cancer in 2000, said Roda. Additionally, a public campaign was held asking that patients contact the Agency for Toxic Substances of Disease Registry (ATSDR). At St. Luke's Miners Memorial Hospital, Dr. Roda and his associates at the Cancer Center took an active role in collecting data and worked with physicians from Mt. Sinai School of Medicine and the ATSDR to verify which patients had confirmed cases of PV.

The data was reviewed and the report written by Ronald Hoffman, MD and Mingjiang Xu, MD, PhD, from the Mount Sinai School of Medicine and MPD Research Alliance & Consortium, NY; and Dr. Roda, North Eastern Medical Oncology, Hazelton and St. Luke's Miners Memorial Hospital, Coaldale, PA.

According to the findings, an epicenter of the PV cases is located along Ben Titus Road in McAdoo, Roda said, where four cases were confirmed and within a 13 mile radius of the McAdoo Associates Superfund site. Roda cited national statistics, which indicated less than one case of PV per 100,000 people per year. The end result, according to the report, is that “individuals living within the area had a 4.5 times greater risk of developing PV compared to individuals residing in the remainder of the 3 counties,” which includes Schuylkill, Luzerne and Carbon counties.

The report is to be published in the American Society of Hematology and was presented at its 49th annual meeting December 8-11, 2007. For the complete article, see Blood, abstract #264 Volume 110, Issue 11.

Further studies to try to determine what pollutants might have led to PV and how the pollutant was spread are planned for the future, according to Roda.

Testing for PV is available at St. Luke's Miners Memorial Hospital Oncology Department by calling 570-645-8356.