Spatio-temporal Patterns of Bladder Cancer Incidence in Utah (1973-2004) and their Association with the Presence of Toxic Release Inventory Sites

International Journal of Health Geographics, 2011, 10:16 (28 February 2011)

Fortunato L, Abellan JJ, Beale L, LeFevre S, and Richardson S

“Background: The authors analyse the spatio-temporal variations of the incidence of bladder cancer between 1973 and 2004 in Utah at the census tract level (496 areas) to highlight areas of high and low relative risks that remained so throughout the 32 year period. Using these identified areas, a novel strategy is used to carry out a geographical case-control study of association between the risk of bladder cancer and presence of Toxic Release Inventory sites, where areas with stable high RRs are `case areas’ and all remaining areas with stable non increased risks are `control areas’.

“Results: The time trend of bladder cancer risk fluctuated over the study period: A steady decrease was observed, followed by an abrupt increase from 1992 to 2004. Using a Bayesian space-time model, 93 census tracts were classified as having an excess relative risk and 81 a lower relative risk, sustained over the 32 years. We showed that these high relative risk areas for bladder cancer were associated with the presence of Toxic Release Inventory sites, after adjusting for the proportion of Latter-Day Saint Church members as an area level proxy for smoking habits.

“Conclusions: Our study has demonstrated that the modeling of data in time and space has additional benefits over a purely spatial analysis. In addition to highlighting the areas with high and low relative risks, this model also allows the simultaneous study of persistency of spatial patterns over time and detection of `unusual’ time trends that may warrant further investigation.”