From the January 15, 1999 edition of the Bulletin

BNL Cancer Assessment — Where Does It Stand?

Last January, DOE announced that, at the request of BNL employees, it was initiating an assessment of the rate of cancer among former and current workers at the Laboratory. But it has been a year, and the assessment is not yet complete. This update discusses the delay and when BNLers can expect to see the final report.

As described a year ago in all-employee meetings and in the Brookhaven Bulletin of January 30, 1998, a cancer assessment would be the first step in determining whether a full study of cancer rates among BNLers would ever be warranted.

“I must emphasize that this assessment will measure the occurrence of cancer among former and current BNL workers, not causes of cancer in this group,” said George Malosh, Manager of DOE’s Brookhaven Group. He explained that any decision regarding a more detailed study would be made by the National Institute for Occupational Safety &Health, a part of the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (DH&HS). That’s because, Malosh said, “DOE and DH&HS have signed a memorandum of understanding, under which DOE is not allowed to conduct the full epidemiological study, which would be required to identify a cause of cancer in a given DOE population.”

To maintain a professional distance from the study, DOE asked the New York State cancer registry to conduct the assessment. The registry’s charge was to identify the incidence of cancer among BNL workers by comparing pertinent data about Brookhaven’s 21,271 former and current workers to its own automated cancer surveillance database. At that time, DOE officials anticipated that the roster, which includes the name and a variety of background information for each employee, would be delivered to the cancer registry within a few weeks and that the assessment would be completed by that summer. However, subsequent checks of the roster showed that additional work, mostly formatting the data, was required before it would be ready for use by the cancer registry. So, the roster’s submission had to be postponed.

The roster was given to the cancer registry last November, and the registry is now performing analyses comparing the occurrence of cancer among former and current BNL workers with that of residents of Suffolk and Nassau Counties and New York State.

DOE has requested that the registry generate a draft report of its findings by March 5, 1999. The registry is expected to complete the final report within 90 days of receiving comments from DOE’s Office of Epidemiologic Studies. The final report is expected sometime this summer. “The final report will first be provided to Laboratory employees,” said Malosh. “Once employees are informed and their questions answered, the report and all related data that do not compromise past or present worker confidentiality will be made available to the general public, and to Health and Human Services for its review.”

Employees with questions about the cancer assessment may contact John Carter, DOE Brookhaven Group, Ext. 5195 or e-mail jcarter@bnl.gov.

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