The Regional committee for medical and health related research ethics (REK), South East Norway, has reviewed the application from the Cancer Registry of Norway, regarding a study of cancer occurrence in Sørvær and Hasvik communities. The committee has delayed the review of the application pending a fuller project description and clarification of some questions.
The Ministry of Health and Care Services has requested an overview of cancer cases among those who live or have lived in Sørvær and Hasvik communities before and after the shipwrecked Russian cruiser Murmansk. The background is that there has been unrest in the local population regarding the number of cancer cases near the wreck. The Cancer Registry’s planned study wishes to clarify if there is a strikingly larger cancer incidence in Sørvær compared to what one would expect on the national average. This will also include those who have moved.
To gain such an overview the Cancer Regitry’s data will be linked to the National Population Register. This requires a permit from The Data Inspectorate and an ethical assessment of the project. The permit was given by The Data Inspectorate the 9. September 2008. The Cancer Registry asked the Regional Ethical Committee South East for an ethical evaluation the 13. of August 2008. The evaluation was done the 27. of August 2008, and REK has now asked the Cancer Registry for an extended project description and some additional information in the application.
REK South East is of the opinion that it is reasonable to carry out the study without obtaining the approval from those in the selection. This, because the study has great social interest, and also the belief that the majority would be positive to the study. The committee however, requires that the study has to yield scientific results. This is a challenge in studies of such small populations.
The Cancer Registry is now working to answer the committee’s questions and to formulate an extended description of the project, which will be sent REK South East for the final treatment of the application.