Cancer cases scare residents

GLADSTONE residents fear that their city may have become a cancer cluster hot spot.

Queensland Health figures show that between 1996 and 2004 the rate of chronic lymphoid leukaemia was 108 per cent higher than the whole of Queensland with other types of leukaemia also higher than the average.

And now, the Queensland Cancer Council has reported that on average 132 people living in Gladstone were diagnosed with cancer each year from 2003 to 2007.

Queensland Cancer Council spokeswoman Anne Savage told The Observer the rates of cancer were about 10 per cent higher in Gladstone compared to all of Queensland.

“The overall increased risk of cancer appears to be driven in part by increased risks for lung cancer and melanoma. There could be a number of reasons for this increased incidence, including, but not limited to, differences in the prevalence of risk factors and access to screening and diagnostic facilities.

In 2007, Gladstone residents cried out to the then Queensland Health Minister Stephen Robertson for an inquiry cumulating in part with the Human Health Risk Assessment report released two weeks ago.

However, some Gladstone residents believe the air quality report is deficient by not including an update of the health statistics for the Gladstone area.

Environmental campaigner Paul Tooker said the appallingly high incidence of cancer lent weight to some people’s scepticism of the Queensland Health finding that Gladstone’s air was essentially risk-free.

“They must act on these damning statistics by funding an independent third-party expert investigation, and by investing in a comprehensive cancer diagnostic treatment in Gladstone,” he said.

Gladstone MP Liz Cunningham said she would raise the issue in Parliament this week.

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