4 June 2008
Hospital `cancer cluster’ may grow
The high number of staff diagnosed with breast cancer at Adelaide’s Women’s and Children’s Hospital may climb, with calls to broaden the search for more possible victims.
The cluster of women who worked or volunteered in the hospital’s Queen Victoria Building, where the maternity and neonatal services are located, had twice the rate of breast cancer statistically expected.
Following the release of preliminary findings from a government review, State Health Minister John Hill said yesterday the building did not seem to be the cause of the cancer, but an environmental audit would begin next week.
State Opposition health spokeswoman Vickie Chapman said the review, confined to between 2000 and this year, needed to go back to 1995, when the building opened.
It emerged the hospital had instituted a counselling service for staff with breast cancer in 2000 but stopped the service in 2003. “This was a known issue in the hospital years ago, and yet the Government were resistant in undertaking this review,” Ms Chapman said.
Eighteen women working in the Queen Victoria Building between 2000 and the end of last year were diagnosed with breast cancer. They were aged between 50 and 69.
The review found eight fewer cases of other types of cancer among staff in the building than would be expected.
Led by David Roder, head of research and information science at the state’s Cancer Council, the review was prompted by an anonymous staff member.
Meanwhile, the Queensland Government released the results of an investigation into a suspected cancer cluster at the Atherton Fire Station in the state’s north. Emergency Services Minister Neil Roberts said tests found no issues of concern.