A Bayesian Method for Cluster Detection with Application to Brain and Breast Cancer in Puget Sound


Cluster detection is an important public health endeavor, and in this article, we describe and apply a recently developed Bayesian method. Commonly used approaches are based on so-called scan statistics and suffer from a number of difficulties, which include how to choose a level of significance and how to deal with the possibility of multiple clusters. The basis of our model is to partition the study region into a set of areas that are either ‘null’ or ‘non-null,’ the latter corresponding to clusters (excess risk) or anticlusters (reduced risk). We demonstrate the Bayesian method and compare with a popular existing approach, using data on breast, brain, lung, prostate, and colorectal cancer, in the Puget Sound region of Washington State.

In Epidemiology.