Evaluating cluster alarms: a space-time scan statistic and brain cancer in Los Alamos, New Mexico

Am J Public Health. 1998 Sep;88(9):1377-80. doi: 10.2105/ajph.88.9.1377.


Objectives: This article presents a space-time scan statistic, useful for evaluating space-time cluster alarms, and illustrates the method on a recent brain cancer cluster alarms in Los Alamos, NM.

Methods: The space-time scan statistic accounts for the preselection bias and multiple testing inherent in a cluster alarm. Confounders and time trends can be adjusted for.

Results: The observed excess of brain cancer in Los Alamos was not statistically significant.

Conclusions: The space-time scan statistic is useful as a screening tool for evaluating which cluster alarms merit further investigation and which clusters are probably chance occurrences.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Brain Neoplasms / epidemiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Male
  • Monte Carlo Method
  • New Mexico / epidemiology
  • SEER Program
  • Space-Time Clustering*