Receiving a diagnosis of cancer for yourself or a loved one is, of course, very upsetting. After the initial shock wears off, however, being touched by cancer has another common effect: Increased awareness of cancer around you.
This raised awareness can lead to the perception that there is an unusually large number of people with cancer in your community, and sometimes the suspicion that those cancers are part of a "cancer cluster": A group of people who have cancers caused by hazardous substances in the environment.
Cancer clusters have happened, and the Cancer Surveillance Unit evaluates reports of suspected cancer clusters (see sidebar at right). Cancer is more common than many people realize, however, and most cancers are related to age and lifestyle factors.
Please see our fact sheet, "Inquiries About Cancer in Communities," to learn more. A Spanish-language version is also available.