A Civil Action - The Woburn Toxic Trial > Instructor Materials > 2 - Cancer and Clusters

Instructor Materials - Module 2

Cancer and Cancer Clusters

Using this Module

Cancer is an everyday topic in the news and in most extended families. The types and treatment of cancers can be complex and confusing. Module 2 provides students with knowledge and resources concerning the development of cancers related to environmental factors. It is important for students to realize that the state-of-the-art of cancer treatment prior to 1986 (the year the trial started) is not the current state-of-the-art. Treatment of many types of cancer has progressed enormously due to medical research. Treatment of childhood leukemia is one of the success stories in cancer treatment. Research linking childhood leukemia to environmental factors or a specific environmental factor has progressed more slowly. Several links are provided within the website that students can read to become aware of environmental factors in Woburn that have been studied, including Woburn Chemical Industry, Woburn's Water Supply and Hematology of Leukemia. Several research articles are available for students to read and are cited within the searchable database at Bibliography & References.

Module Design

Module 2 contains links to the American Cancer Association, Center for Disease Control and other similar websites so students can investigate the differences in cancer types and the suspected environmental conditions that may trigger cell mutation. Also included with the resource materials are copies of technical reports and Health Studies that were to be used as trial exhibits by some of the health experts who were deposed before the trial.

If you plan to hold a mock trial, you will need to decide whether to allow 'modern' facts to be used within the context of the 1986 trial. This likely will entail limiting testimony in the mock trial testimony to the data available at the the time of the original trial (pre-1986). Students should certainly be familiar with the more recent studies, but the Mock Trial Court will need to stipulate that evidence based on post-1986 studies is inadmissible. The temptation to 'sneak in new facts' will require students representing the parties to be familiar with the treatments of the 1980s so they can effectively police post-trial findings with sustained objections.

Instructor's Activity Page

Cancer Cluster Activity Overview

Student Assignment

Student Materials

Assessment Tools

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