Doctors cancer cluster

What causes cancer to the hospital workers?

Maariv newspaper

By Ela Harnoi and Hila Alroi

Haifa's Carmel hospital workers are scared: lately there has been found a large number of cancer cases, especially on one of the top floors of the main building. Part of the workers are afraid that the cause is the cellular antenna which is erected near this floor. The hospital opened an investigation. Among the patients: the department manager, a unit manager, nurses and official physicians. In one of the cases, the department manager left the hospital after he got sick and the person who came instead of him got sick too. At least 5 team members of the same floor got cancer, and additional number of doctors and nurses of other floors. Among the diseases: pancreas cancer, liver, lymphoma, breast cancer, multiple myloma and brain tumors. The team was worried for some time about the cancer morbidity that seems to be abnormal, and during the last two weeks another case was discovered in a nurse who works at the same floor where other team members got sick.

The hospital manager, Dr. Hen Shapira, asked prof Gadi Renart, manager of the cancer control center at the General Health Services and manager of department of community and epidemiology in the Carmel medical center, to start investigating the cases. "During these days accurate data is collected in order to check whether there is excess of morbidity than expected" explained prof Renart yesterday. Part of the workers blame the cellular antenna which is located near one of the floors where large number of cancer cases was discovered. But prof Renart says, "the thought that the cause is an antenna is probably not realistic, because according to the scientific knowledge that was gathered until today, there is no proof that antennas cause cancer. In the health professions there is an exposure to many substances that can cause cancer, in addition they are exposed to diseases which can weaken the immune system". According to Dr. Avi Rotshild, a department manager, who got cancer, it is a coincidence:"I would never come back to work in a floor that will endanger my health, and I gladly returned to work at the department after my recovery. I served in the Kishon [[chemically polluted stream where soldiers dive]] and it is impossible to know where the cancer came from" Dr. Rotschild told that nurses and doctors who worked at his depatrment came to him: "I have total belief that it is a very weird coincidence and each member of the team who came to me received all possible information" Within 3 weeks the hospital workers will gather for a team meeting. The workers are very afraid but according to Renart, "even if there will be found an excess of morbidity, relatively than the expected in the population, it is possible that the investigation will end in with dead end, as happens many times".

From the hospital it was said that "the management is committed and acts to insure the safety of the hospital environment according to the law guidlines, and even beyond it. Radiation measurements are done once a year. The latest ionizing radiation check was done in August". More it was said that the cancers which were found are of many types, which reduces the chance that the morbidity was caused by the one cause.

Informant: Iris Atzmon



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September 2007

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