RE: cancer in the histology lab (was 10% formaldehyde)

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From:Pam Marcum <>,
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Unfortunately as it has been pointed out NSH does not have all histologists
as members and we need a good overview of everyone working in the field.  A
good questionnaire should be published and answered in as many places as
reasonable.  However, the shortage of money for meetings and lower
attendance tell us we would need more coverage to get an accurate read.  The
regular attendees are not always the ones with the problems or need to
review although we generally have had more exposure over the years of
"everything including xylene is safe."  Pam

-----Original Message-----
From: []
Sent: Monday, February 21, 2000 10:32 AM
Subject: Fwd: cancer in the histology lab (was 10% formaldehyde)

 Thank you....... I too have been dealing with cancer for a few years. I've
been a tech for 25 years. We definately need a questionnaire for us oldies.
NSH is the one to do it, or how about AFIP, whoever we need one done.  I for
one would like to know how many others have the same cancer that I have, and
what kind of histo labs they have worked in. Thank you for the idea.

 Barbara Stone
 Dermatology Associates
 Boca Raton, Fl.

 << Bob,

  Why don't you devise a questionnaire for us oldies to answer, say 50 years
  and over with questions such as:

  Which of the following chemicals have you been exposed to during your
  working career?

  Do you know of any fellow technicians who have contracted Ca attributed to
  chemical exposure + details?

  Cigarette smoking could also come into it.

  What is your current state of health and if not 100%, would you attribute
  this to chemical exposure?

  I have two years to go now to 65 and retirement and have worked in
  laboratories since I was 16 and am still hail and hearty.  Some of the
  chemicals I have worked with are a definite no no nowadays, maybe I am
  lucky or its all in the genes.  I may be wrong but I imagine the results
  such a survey would be positive and may go some way to reassure younger
  colleagues that there is not as much danger as one would imagine provided
  good laboratory working practices are in place.


  At 09:08 19/02/00 -0500, wrote:
  >Donna Barlow at Duke University in North Carolina writes:
  >>>We have technicians working in our surgical pathology lab that have had
  >are dealing with cancer. The cancers these people have dealt with  and
  >dealing with are breast cancer, colon, kidney, uterine, ovarian, and
  >abdominal cancer.<<
  >None of these cancers (with the possible exception of kidney) is thought
  >be related to exposure to environmental carcinogens. If people were
  >cancers related to inhaled carcinogens, you'd expect cancers of the head
  >neck, lungs, and urinary bladder. To imply that these unfortunate people
  >developing cancer because they're exposed to laboratory chemicals raises
  >needless anxiety among people who are exposed to them.
  >Unfortunately, the facts are fewer than they should be. The AMA tracks
  >of death of American physicians quite carefully. The causes of death of
  >American pathologists don't differ from those of other physicians
  >radiologists, at least the older generation, differ profoundly). It seems
  >me that that fact goes a long way to exonerate formaldehyde as a major
  >carcinogen, since pathologists probably get more formaldehyde exposure
  >anybody else in the average lab (well, at least  I do!)
  >If there's a suspect carcinogen in the histology lab it's xylene (along
  >the closely related benzene and toluene). Here histotechnologists get
  >exposure than pathologists. Unfortunately, the causes of death of
  >histotechnologists are not well documented. I think it would be a good
  >for NSH to start collecting the death certificates of its members past
  >present, but only a minority of histotechs belong to NSH, and many people
  >several years of exposure, leave the field forever, and would thus be
  >such follow-up. (AMA tracks all American physicians, members or not.)
  >Bob Richmond
  >Samurai Pathologist
  >Knoxville TN
  Jim Hall,
  MDA Equipment Evaluator,
  Department of Histopathology,
  University College London Hospitals,
  Rockefeller Building,
  University Street,
  London, WC1E 6JJ.
  Tel.No. 0171 209 6042
  Fax 0171 387 3674


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