The epidemiology of leukaemia in the UK

Bhayat, Fatima (2010) The epidemiology of leukaemia in the UK. PhD thesis, University of Nottingham.

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Approximately 9% of all new malignant diagnoses in the UK are due to haematological malignancies. The acute and chronic leukaemias constitute 2.5 % of all cancers and leukaemia is the 12th most common cancer registered in the UK. Approximately 7 000 people are diagnosed with the disease and more than 4 300 people die from leukaemia in the UK each year. As such, they have an important impact on the health of the public and represent a significant cost to the health care budget.


The research presented in this thesis firstly aimed to quantify the incidence of and mortality from the acute and chronic leukaemias in the UK, and to define their associations with gender, age, socioeconomic class, calendar time, and geographic region of residence. A further aim was to determine whether the use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) had a protective effect on the incidence of and mortality from these leukaemias, as has been shown to be the case for a number of other cancers. Finally, the impact of alcohol consumption on leukaemia incidence and mortality was investigated. A surprising result from the incidence and mortality studies was that survival in AML, but not other leukaemias, was worse with increasing socioeconomic deprivation. This generated an additional hypothesis surrounding potential class bias in bone marrow transplantation in these patients, a new area that was also investigated, in addition to the original aims and objectives of the research.


Both general practice and hospital data were used to conduct these population-based studies. 'The Health Improvement Network' (THIN) general practice dataset was used to conduct the cohort studies of incidence and mortality, as well the case-control studies investigating non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug use and alcohol consumption, as potential risk factors for leukaemia. Hospital Episode Statistics (HES) data were used to investigate the additional hypothesis generated by results of the incidence and mortality studies, which showed that mortality in AML patients worsens with increasing socioeconomic deprivation.


A total of 4162 cases of leukaemia were identified, 2314 (56%) of whom were male. The overall incidence of leukaemia is 11.25 per 100 000 person-years and is independent of socioeconomic class. Median survival from leukaemia is 6.58 years and mortality increases with increasing age at diagnosis. The prognosis in AML is dismal and worsens with increasing socioeconomic deprivation, a phenomenon not seen in other leukaemias. Bone marrow transplantation declines with increasing socioeconomic deprivation (p for trend <0.01). Patients with AML in the most deprived socioeconomic quintile are 40% less likely to have a bone marrow transplantation than those in the most advantaged socioeconomic class (OR 0.60, p<0.01, 95% C.I. 0.49 - 0.73), even after adjusting for gender, age at diagnosis, year of bone marrow transplantation and co-morbidity. The risk of leukaemia overall appears to increase marginally with increased use of NSAIDs prior to diagnosis. This is not seen when individual leukaemia subtypes are examined, however, except perhaps in CLL where patients who had received 2-5 prescriptions/year were 29% more likely to be diagnosed with CLL than those who had not had any NSAID prescriptions (O.R. 1.29, p=0.05, 95% C.I. 1.00 - 1.67). There is no statistically significant association between exposure to NSAIDs prior to leukaemia diagnosis, and survival. There is no statistically significant association between alcohol consumptionand risk of developing leukaemia overall, nor with any of the leukaemia subtypes studied here. Alcohol consumption is associated with a lower risk of death in leukaemia overall (HR 0.83, p=0.04, 95% C.I. 0.69 - 0.99), as well as in All (HR 0.14, p<0.01, 95% C.I. 0.04 - 0.44) and CLL (HR 0.71, p=0.02, 95% C.1. 0.53 - 0.96), when compared to those who had not consumed any alcohol.

Item Type: Thesis (University of Nottingham only) (PhD)
Supervisors: Hubbard, R.
Tata, L.
Keywords: Incidence of leukaemia, Mortality due to leukaemia, Alcohol consumption and leukaemia, Effect of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs
Subjects: W Medicine and related subjects (NLM Classification) > WH Hemic and lymphatic system
Faculties/Schools: UK Campuses > Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences > School of Community Health Sciences
Item ID: 11726
Depositing User: EP, Services
Date Deposited: 21 Dec 2010 15:20
Last Modified: 16 Dec 2017 16:34

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