Cancer kids' parents fear state study won't be accurate

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by STEVE STOLER / WFAA-TV

wfaa.com

Posted on January 13, 2010 at 7:31 PM

Updated Friday, Jan 15 at 3:16 PM

FLOWER MOUND — Flower Mound parents whose children have leukemia worry that a state investigation into a possible "cancer cluster" may not be accurate.

The parents want to know whether there's a link between their kids' disease and natural gas drilling operations in the area.

The Texas Department of State Health Services will look at cancer statistics up until 2007, but many of the Flower Mound leukemia cases were diagnosed after that — including five-year-old Paige Boutilier, who learned she had the disease in 2008.

“When you get through the initial shock, you sit with the doctor for a few minutes and ask your initial questions like: 'Is she going to die?'” said Paige’s mother, Jody Boutilier.

The Boutilier family is the third to talk with News 8 this week.

Paige, six-year-old Faith Morrissey and four-year-old Meg Schmidt are among five children and two adults with leukemia in two Flower Mound zip codes.

The state health agency will investigate by talking with the families and comparing Flower Mound cancer cases with statewide cases beginning in 1998.

But the Texas Department of Health Services says it can't look at any statistical data involving leukemia in the state beyond 2007 because the statistics are not yet available.

The parents say that's a problem.

“We may be able to get more current figures from Flower Mound, but if we added those and then didn't have comparable figures for 2008 and 2009 from the rest of the state, then our analysis would be skewed," explained Allison Lowery, a spokeswoman for the Texas Department of State Health Services.

Faith Morrissey's dad says most of the Flower Mound kids who have leukemia were diagnosed after 2007, so they won't be included in the state study.

“My concern is that they're excluding two years of data, which in my opinion may be the two most critical years," Morrissey said.

News 8 has learned that in addition to the seven patients already identified,  there have been other Flower Mound families whose children have leukemia. They have also been in contact with the state health agency.

E-mail sstoler@wfaa.com

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