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Oklahoma representative, agencies launch investigation into childhood cancer rates

TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – When you’re a parent, you only want what is best for your child.

However, many parents are concerned about the health of their children living in Cherokee County.

They say there have been an increase in childhood cancer rates within the past few years.

Now, a state representative says he is looking into the matter, along with the Oklahoma Department of Health and the Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality.

“I am aware of citizens’ concerns surrounding cases on childhood cancer in Oklahoma House District 4 and am actively monitoring this situation. As the father of three children, with a fourth due any day now, I am very concerned about the health and well-being of kids in our community and across our state. I am working alongside the Oklahoma State Department of Health and the Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality to ensure that a thorough examination into the rates of childhood cancer and any factors that may be leading to increased rates of such diseases in Cherokee County are fully investigated and fixed.

“In April, the Oklahoma State Department of Health opened an investigation to assess whether the occurrence of pediatric cancer in Cherokee County was statistically higher than the state of Oklahoma as a whole. The Oklahoma State Department of Health has released a preliminary report while continuing to verify diagnoses and gather community data. The investigative team looking into the occurrence of childhood cancer in Cherokee County is set to meet in early December to analyze this additional data, and will be updating their reports accordingly.

“If the evidence shows that the incidence of childhood cancer is statistically higher than the state as a whole or if it is found to be increasing over time, the Oklahoma State Department of Health will work with the Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality to determine what factors may be causing the increased rate. For their part, the Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality continually collects water samples in communities throughout the state, and has found House District 4 to have a good track record of clean, uncontaminated water. The DEQ is continuing to monitor our water supply and the Department of Health’s investigation into occurrence of pediatric cancer in our community.

“I am actively monitoring this investigation and will continue to be vigilant over the safety and well-being of our children. I want to assure the citizens of House District 4 that the men and women who work for the Departments of Health and Environmental Quality are taking this situation very seriously and thoroughly investigating our community’s concerns.

“If you have any information that may be helpful in this investigation or any questions, please contact my office at 405-557-7408,” a statement by Rep. Matthew Meredith read.