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Cancer Incidence

Volume 130: debated on Wednesday 30 March 1988

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To ask the Secretary of State for Social Services (1) if he will ensure that all material relating to the high incidence of child cancer in the Humberside villages of Kirkella Willerby and Analaby is referred to the area statistics unit within the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine; and if, in accordance with its remit, he will request it to report as a matter of urgency;(2) what progress has been made by the area statistics unit within the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine in identifying and analysing unusal clusters of disease in the neighbourhood of industrial installations; and what material emanating from its work has been, or is intended shortly to be, made public.

[holding answer 28 March 1988]: The small area health statistics unit (SAHSU) at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine is establishing a computerised data base and, in collaboration with others, developing further methods of analysing health statistics in relation to potential sources of pollution. These advances should in due course greatly strengthen our understanding of such statistics.Officials from Departments funding the unit met the director and his colleagues at the steering committee on 23 March. The development phase is well advanced and should be completed within two years. Before then the unit will be able to advise on any reports of unusual incidence of disease using more limited means of analysis already available. SAHSU will publish reports of its scientific investigations in the usual way.My hon. Friend is aware that the East Yorkshire health authority has asked Dr. Ray Cartwright to assess the statistical evidence of local patterns of childhood cancer on Humberside. We await the results of that work, which I am told are expected very quickly. Because of the health authority's initiative and the unit's stage of development, we do not propose to ask SAHSU to investigate the problem reported on Humberside. Once the results are made available, we will take advice as to whether further studies would be helpful.I understand that my hon. Friend the Minister with responsibility for waste disposal and sport has instigated an investigation into the radioactive discharges from Capper Pass to be carried out by Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Pollution.