HC Deb 04 December 1989 vol 163 c51W
Mr. Barry Jones

To ask the Secretary of State for Wales what investigations he will institute to consider the rates for cancer in North Wales; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Barry Jones

To ask the Secretary of State for Wales, what measures he will take to investigate(a) the rate of stomach cancer in North Wales, (b) breast cancer rates in Merioneth, Aberconway, Rhondda and Colwyn, (c) rates of cancer of the cervix in Clwyd and Anglesey and (d) incidences of leukaemia in women in Colwyn, Merioneth and Wales generally; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Grist

It has been known for some time that there was a slight elevation of cancer incidence rates for north Wales in comparison with the average for Wales as a whole. In order to establish if any particular factor could be held responsible it was announced in 1987 that Professor Hubert Campbell, Emeritus Professor of Medical Statistics of the University of Wales. College of Medicine had been appointed to consider the available data relating to the incidence of cancers in north Wales since 1974.

Professor Campbell's report was published in July 1988. In introducing his findings Professor Campbell emphasised there was nothing new in the elevation of cancer incidence rates in north Wales; records demonstrate this situation has existed for at least 70 years and it would not be possible to identify any aetiological agent as being responsible. It was however suggested that some further investigation might be undertaken into the question of whether some genetic factor might play a contributory role in the excess of leukemia registration identified in the report and also into the possible reasons for an excess in thyroid cancer registration in women over the age of 25 between 1974 amd 1978.

The feasibility and potential value of such further investigation is being considered in conjunction with the small areas health statistics unit.

The Wales Cancer Registry records incidence rates for all types of cancer and detailed summaries are published periodically. The third report "Cancer Registration Wales 1974–84" was published in May 1988.

It must be appreciated in considering such reports that at district level or below the number of annual registrations for certain types of malignancy can be very small. As such, considerable care must be exercised in the interpretation of the derived incidence rates.