London's Pulse: Medical Officer of Health reports 1848-1972

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Greenwich 1966

[Report of the Medical Officer of Health for Greenwich Borough]

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connotations not met with in other diseases, claimed 545 victims
during the year under review. With the exception of leukaemia and
lung cancer, which showed a reduction of 15%, all other forms of
cancer registered increases. Indeed, stomach cancer deaths rose by
15 as a result of an increase of 72% in women, mainly over the age
of 65 years. Comparatively, deaths from cancer of the uterus and
cervix were much more prevalent but, as the actual figures were
small, these may well be chance fluctuations. The total of 545 cancer
deaths was equivalent to 21.5% of deaths from all causes, indicating
that approximately one death in every five resulted from some form
of cancer.

The following table shows the various sites affected:—

Cancer of stomach3731680.29
„ „ lung, bronchus132241560.68
„ „ breast48480.21
„ „ uterus14+140.06
„ „ other forms1221272491.08
*Per 1,000 population †cancer of the cervix—8 (rate 0.03)

Nationally, the number of cancer deaths is rising mainly due to
the increase in cancer of the lung, deaths from which have been
advancing at a rate of over 1,000 per year since 1960. Indeed, the
present total for England and Wales, viz. 27,025, indicates that not
only has the annual rise of 2% been more than maintained but that
the total, which shows an increase of almost 60% over the last
decade, gives a national rate of 0.56. Figures for Greater London,
which has consistently returned a high rate from this cause, follow
the national pattern and a current rate of 0.72 is returned compared
with the more favourable Borough rate of 0.68. A reduction of 15%
in lung cancer deaths of residents during 1966 defies explanation but
it is conceivable that this occurrence reflects an improvement due
to the efforts of the health educationalists or it may presage a
'levelling out' of fatalities from this pernicious disease as forecast
by some experts.
Although death rates for women who die from cancer of the
lung continue to increase, there are still five times as many men as
women dying from this cause.
Lung Cancer.—Throughout the country in recent years there
has been a marked rise in the incidence of cancer of the lung and
the following table has been included in order that the trend in this
Borough may be studied:—