NO EVIDENCE has been found of a higher-than-expected rate of either breast cancer or total cancers in the Wensleydale or Swaledale areas, Hambleton and Richmondshire NHS Primary Care Trust announced this week.

Just before Christmas, the Rotary Club of Wensleydale raised concerns with Richmond MP, William Hague, about the number of cases of cancer in the Wensleydale area.

Mr Hague asked the primary care trust to investigate the incidence of cancer in Wensleydale and Swaledale. The trust examined data from two sources. These were the Northern and Yorkshire Cancer Registry and Information Service and the North Yorkshire breast screening service.

Data from the two wards corresponding to Wensleydale and Swaledale dating back to 1991 was gathered to allow for the cancer rates over the years to be examined. This included statistics for those registered at the Hawes, Aysgarth, Leyburn and Reeth surgeries who had attended breast screening sessions since 1999.

The local data was compared with the whole of Hambleton and Richmondshire PCT area and all of North Yorkshire to identify any statistically significant difference in the rates.

There were no periods for which the local areas had significantly higher rates than the comparison areas, but there were several periods for which the two dales had significantly lower rates of cancer.

The breast cancer results were also found to be not statistically different from nationally "expected " rates.

The full report, which has been made available to Mr Hague and to the Rotary club, states that the total number of women screened from the four practices in 2002 and 2003 was 1,144.

Of these, 44 were recalled and ten were diagnosed as having breast cancer.