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

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London County Council 1958

[Report of the Medical Officer of Health for London County Council]

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In view of the generally increased mortality from cancer, the following summary
sets out the changes in mortality from the principal sites of cancer so that they may be
examined to see if the increase is due to any particular form, or forms, of cancer. As with
the age group summary triennial periods have been used.

Table (vii)—Mean annual number of deaths and death rates (all ages) by site of cancer, 1949-51 and 1956-58

Site1949-511956-58Percentage change in rate
No. deathsRate per 1,000 populationNo. of deathsRate per 1,000 population
Buccal cavity and pharynxM.1400.0901060.070-22
StomachM.5950.3805630.370- 3
F.4850.2704300.248- 8
Intestines and rectumM.6080.3894730.311-20
F.6780.3786380.368- 3
Lung and bronchusM.1,2030.7691,6701.097+43
Breast and genito-urinary organsM.4980.3185280.347+ 9
F.1,3780.7681,4510.838+ 9
Leukemia and aleukemiaM.840.053960.063+19
Other lymphatic and haematopietic tissueM.1010.0651230.081+25
Other sitesM.7050.4516910.454+ 1
f.3,5191-9613,7022-137+ 9

For males, the greatest proportionate increase was in cancer of the lung and bronchus,
followed by cancer of other lymphatic and haematopietic tissue and leukemia: the
greatest proportionate decreases were in cancer of the buccal cavity and pharynx and
intestines and rectum. For females, the increases were in cancer of the other lymphatic
and haematopietic tissue, lung and bronchus, and ' other sites ', with decreases in cancer
of the stomach, intestines and rectum.
Absolutely, the major change for males was an increased death roll of some 470
from cancer of the lung, whilst for females there was a rise of about 80 in lung cancer,
70 in cancer of the breast and genito-urinary organs and 60 in ' other sites'. For both
sexes combined, therefore, the outstanding feature of the table is the great increase in
deaths from cancer of the lung—of the same proportionate order—but with male
deaths 5-6 times as frequent.
Mortality from leukemia and aleukemia has been shown separately from that
of the main group of lymphatic and haematopietic tissue because of the prominence
given to the former in recent years in connection with a suggested causal connection
between it and radiation, especially the use of X-rays in diagnostic practice and
radiotherapeutic treatment. Stewart et al* are investigating the possibility of a causal
connection between irradiation in utero and subsequent malignant disease in children:
the increase in deaths from leukemia in London over the past ten years has been mostly
in the 65 + years age group.
Of the five causes that make up the total deaths from other lymphatic and
haematopietic tissue—lymphosarcoma, Hodgkin's disease, reticulosis, multiple myeloma
and mycosis fungoides—the greatest proportionate increase has been in multiple
* Stewart, A., Webb, J., Giles, D. and Hewitt, D., Lancet {1956) ii, 447.