Revised report on adrenal gland cancer, leukaemia, in Vietnam Vets children

The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) has corrected information that it released last year on adrenal gland cancer and acute myeloid leukemia in the children of Vietnam Veterans. The report, Morbidity of Vietnam Veterans: Adrenal Gland Cancer, Leukaemia and Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma (supplementary report no. 2), was released jointly with the Department of Veterans' Affairs in December 2000.

Corrected information no longer shows that children of Vietnam Veterans face a significantly greater risk of adrenal gland cancer or acute myeloid leukemia than children in the general community. AIHW has found that an error in the way that it calculated the expected prevalence of these two conditions in the general community caused it to underestimate community prevalence in its original report.

The new calculations show that the prevalence of these conditions in the children of Vietnam Veterans, while higher than normal and suggestive of increased risk, is not raised to a statistically significant extent.

Table: Adrenal gland cancer and acute myeloid leukaemia validated in veterans children

Condition Validated cases Expected number
(95% confidence interval)
Adrenal gland cancer 10 6 (111)
Acute myeloid leukaemia 13 10 (416)

The original study followed up medical reports with the permission of 6,842 Veterans and 3,629 of their children.

AIHW apologises for any distress caused to Veterans and their children by the incorrect conclusions in the original report.

The AIHW has been advised by the Department of Veterans' Affairs and the Department of Health and Aged Care that there will be no change to the provisions made under the Vietnam Veterans Children Support Program to children with these conditions.

A revised edition of the original report will be printed and distributed to the Veteran community as soon as practically possible.

The accuracy and validity of other previously published results on the health status of Vietnam Veterans or their children are not affected by the changed findings on adrenal gland cancer and acute myeloid leukaemia in Veterans' children.

16 May 2001

Further information:
John Harding, AIHW, tel. 02 6244 1140
Phil Trickett, AIHW, tel. 02 6244 1097
Wes Kilham, DVA, tel. 02 6289 6634