In brief

BMJ 2004; 328 doi: (Published 10 June 2004) Cite this as: BMJ 2004;328:1394

Survey finds longer waits for cancer treatment: Cancer patients now wait two weeks longer for treatment than they did six years ago, in three out of four NHS centres. This is a finding of an audit by the Royal College of Radiologists of all radiotherapy centres in the United Kingdom. The report attributes the rise to an increase in the number of patients being referred for treatment. It will be published next month on the college's website:

Dutch institute warns of polio threat: The Dutch Institute of Public Health and the Environment is warning doctors to be alert to the threat of poliomyelitis among African population groups who may have had contact with the current outbreak in northern Nigeria. The institute has urged Dutch health services with large West African populations to maintain a 95% level of childhood vaccinations (

Hookah pipes to focus in antismoking campaign: Israel's health ministry and the Israel Cancer Association are launching a publicity campaign aimed at discouraging youngsters from smoking hookahs (tobacco water pipes), traditionally used by elderly Arab men but now “fashionable” among Jewish teenagers. A survey showed some 40% to 57% of Jewish pupils from sixth to 10th grades had tried a water pipe, and many used one regularly.

Norway launches smoking ban: Norway is the second country in the world to have introduced a smoking ban in all indoor places. The health minister, Dagfinn Hoybraten, said that the blanket ban was designed to protect people working in bars and restaurants.

Cancer Bank is launched: The Wales Cancer Bank was launched this week by the Welsh Assembly health minister, Jane Hutt. Patients with possible or confirmed cancer will be asked for their permission for a portion of their tissue and a blood sample to be stored for future scientific studies.

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