HL Deb 19 March 2001 vol 623 c129WA
The Countess of Mar

asked Her Majesty's Government:

How many serving Gulf war veterans are diagnosed as suffering from cancer and are still retained in the services; and how many have died from cancer while in service. [HL1035]

The Minister of State, Ministry of Defence (Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean)

The Ministry of Defence does not hold centrally information on all serving personnel who have been diagnosed with a cancer. To facilitate research into the health of Gulf veterans, the Ministry of Defence arranged for all Gulf veterans' records to be flagged on the Office for National Statistics' NHS Central Register (NHSCR) database, as well as a similar comparison group of personnel who were also in service on 1 January 1991. This should ensure that the Ministry of Defence is notified of cancer registrations and deaths together with the causes of death in England, Wales and Scotland. Similar information on cancer registrations is not available for Northern Ireland for security reasons, nor for serving personnel diagnosed overseas. Although flagging is complete for 98 per cent of all records, NHSCR cancer registration data are currently complete up to 1996. My officials will review the available data and I will write to the noble Countess setting out such information as is available, placing a copy of my letter in the Library of the House, when I am in a position to do so.

For the period 1 April 1991 to 8 March 2001, 26 Gulf veterans who were still serving at the time of death were confirmed as having died from cancer (International Classification of Diseases, 9th Revision, Chapter II, Codes 140–239—Neoplasms). The equivalent figure for cancer deaths in the comparison group is 25. The excess in Gulf veterans is not statistically significant.