Exploring Associations Between Residential Location and Breast Cancer Incidence in a Case-Control Study
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CitationPaulu, Christopher, Ann Aschengrau, David Ozonoff. "Exploring Associations Between Residential Location and Breast Cancer Incidence in a Case-Control Study." Environmental Health Perspectives 110(5): 471-478. (2002)
Locating geographic hot spots of cancer may lead to new causal hypotheses and ultimately to new knowledge of cancer-causing factors. The Cape Cod region of Massachusetts has experienced elevated incidence of breast cancer compared with statewide averages. The origins of the excess remain largely unexplained, even after the Upper Cape Cod Cancer Incidence Study investigated numerous potential environmental exposures. Using case-control data from this study (258 cases and 686 controls), we developed an exploratory approach for measuring associations between residential location and breast cancer incidence, adjusting for individual-level risk factors. We measured crude and adjusted odds ratios over the study region using fixed-scale grids and a smoothing algorithm of overlapping circular units. Polycircular hot spot regions, derived from the peak values of the smoothed odds ratios, delineated geographic areas wherein residence was associated with 60% [odds ratio (OR), 1.6; 95% confidence interval (CI), 0.8-3.2] to 210% (OR, 3.1; 95% CI, 1.3-7.2) increased incidence relative to the remainder of the study population. The findings suggest several directions for further research, including the identification of potential environmental exposures that may be assessed in forthcoming case-control studies.