An Investigation into Childhood Leukaemia in Northampton

Return to the Index Page

Where do we go from here?

Northamptonshire Health Authority are satisfied that there is no evidence that residents in the Pembroke Road area are at higher risk of developing cancer from environmental hazards than other residents in the county. 

The Health Authority cannot set up a special epidemiological study to try and discover what caused leukaemia in the children from the Spencer Estate because a local study would be unable to answer this question.  It would be disingenuous and raise false hopes in the community. 

We feel that it is vital that research is continued to identify the causes of leukaemia so that we can institute appropriate preventive measures when these are identified.  We think that it is important that there are well designed scientific studies that are large enough to be able to answer the questions they are addressing.  Sound scientific studies are in progress to address many of the questions raised by the families and we eagerly await their findings. 

We would encourage the setting up of an epidemiological study to look at whether there is an association between childhood cancer and railway lines.  We believe such a study should use the best and latest data available from the National Registry of Childhood Tumours and have access to accurate geographical information. 

The Health Authority will continue to actively review the scientific evidence as it is produced so that we can respond quickly if appropriate preventive measures are identified. 

Part of our role is to give information about health and environmental hazards to the public and to respond appropriately to the community's anxiety.  We did not do this satisfactorily in 1993 and we hope that this report will put that right.  We hope it answers many of the questions people have raised but we welcome further discussion with the families from the Pembroke Road area so that we can understand their worries and help them understand and interpret the scientific evidence about leukaemia in children.  We will maintain contact with the parents. 

After the families have had a chance to read and discuss this report, assuming they would like to have the opportunity to discuss any issues it raises with the Health Authority, the Borough Council and local and national experts, we will organise another meeting. 

We recommend that locally: 

  • houses are tested for radon gas
  • appropriate preventive measures are implemented in homes where radon levels are high
  • children should not play on railway land
  • we work closely with the public and the media to improve the understanding of hazards and risks from the environment and other causes
Back to Section 7 Return to the Index Page Forward to Glossary
© Northamptonshire Health Authority, reproduced by kind permission of Dr Amanda Burls, Sen Reg in Public Health Medicine. 

Created using: Lightning HTML Editor Version 2.10.1997