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Epidemiol Prev. 2011 Sep-Dec;35(5-6):339-45.

[Cancer incidence in the military: an update].

[Article in Italian]

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Centro studi e ricerche di sanità e di veterinaria dell'esercito. mario.peragallo@


An abnormally elevated rate of Hodgkin's lymphoma was reported in 2001 among Italian soldiers in Bosnia and Kosovo since 1995: a surveillance system was therefore set up for the military community. Preliminary results for a longer period (1996-2007) have shown incidence rates lower than expected for all malignancies. No significant difference was registered between observed and expected cases of Hodkin's lymphoma: the excess of reported cases for this malignancy in 2001-2002 was probably due to a peak occurred in 2000 among the whole military; it is therefore unrelated to deployment in the Balkans, and probably represents a chance event. Moreover, a significant excess of thyroid cancer was reported among the whole military.The estimated number of incident cases, including those missed by the surveillance system, was not significantly higher than expected for all cancers; conversely, the estimated incidence rate of thyroid cancer was significantly increased; this excess, however, is probably due to a selection bias.These data concerning cancer surveillance in the Italian military are consistent with lacking evidence of an increased cancer incidence among troops of other countries deployed in the areas of Iraq, Bosnia, and Kosovo, where armour penetrating depleted uranium shells have been used. However, a comprehensive assessment of cancer morbidity in the military requires a revision of the privacy regulations, in order to link individual records of military personnel and data bases of the National Health Service.

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