Manatee Dept. of Health to study old Bayshore High School cancer rates

By Josh Rojas, Reporter
Last Updated: Monday, November 27, 2017, 6:40 PM EST

The Florida Department of Health in Manatee County is trying to solve the mystery surrounding hundreds of Bayshore High School alumni being diagnosed with cancer.

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"While we have no evidence currently that Bayshore High School is the source of any diseased clusters," said Dr. Jennifer Bencie. "We also understand the emotions surrounding this matter."

Dr. Bencie asked that anyone who attended or worked in Bayshore High School in Bradenton and was diagnosed with cancer to submit a patient listing form.

"Which includes a brief medical history of themselves or the person who was diagnosed with the cancer," she said. "Specifically, what type of cancer? Approximate date of diagnosis and name of hospital or doctor who diagnosed them."

The medical form must be submitted before March and DOH-Manatee hopes to have the study results by next fall.

Superintendent Diana Greene said the school district will partner with the Department of Health and provide directory information. Greene is sympathetic to the group of alumni who is asking for the study.

"On a personal note, as a mother of a child who was diagnosed with leukemia at the age of two," she said. "I would also want to know did the environment play a role in my child's health?"

DOH plans to use social media, their website and traditional media to get the word out about the patient listing forms. Bayshore High alumni Cheryl Jozsa, whose sister died of cancer in 1999, said she's glad a study is finally being conducted but has concerns about how DOH plans to reach everyone.

"I feel like the responsibility is being put on the people who are already victims to contact everybody," she said. "Because if you don't contact everybody that ever went to school there, it's going to be an incomplete study."