CANONSBURG (KDKA) -- The Pennsylvania Department of Health is now investigating a potential cancer cluster in Washington County.
Ewing's Sarcoma is a bone tumor considered a very rare childhood illness. For young adults to be diagnosed, it's considered extremely rare.
Within the past 10 years, however, four people within the Canon-McMillan School District have been diagnosed.
Mitch Barton is among those diagnosed with Ewing's Sarcoma. The 21-year-old now spends his days at medical appointments, taking medicines and vitamins to rebuild what the aggressive cancer took. Mitch thought he hurt his clavicle at work.
"It eventually swelled up to about the size of a hockey puck," Mitch said.
Mitch's mom, Christine Barton, watches her son's every painful step.
"He was such a healthy kid growing up so we really had no reason to believe that, y'know, it was something that significant," Christine said.
Surgery to remove the tumor and word the cancer spread to a lung has been a lot to deal with for the mother and son.
"It was a nine-week process, and I got surgery done to remove my right clavicle and to remove my tumor and here I am today," Mitch said.
Ewing's Sarcoma is the same cancer that claimed the life of Mitch's Canon-McMillan classmate and baseball teammate Luke Blanock. He passed away in 2016.
Mitch still wears his LukeStrong bracelet.
"I was shocked whenever I figured out I got diagnosed, and it really hit me, hit my heart, because I just remember what he went through," Mitch said.
Mitch and Luke aren't the only ones diagnosed.
The State Health Department says from 2006 to 2017, there were four reported Ewing's Sarcoma cases in Washington County. None were reported in 2017, but Mitch was diagnosed in 2018 and so was at least one other man they are aware of.
"Could it be something environmental? We don't know, but we should be looking around to rule these possibilities out," Christine said.
Mitch's mom says she has heard from a lot of other families throughout the Pittsburgh area.
The state Health Department also says they have heard from concerned community members about a rise in radiation-related cancers in the area and they are investigating those as well.
A spaghetti dinner fundraiser for Mitch will be held at the Muse Fire Hall from 2 p.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday.
for more features.