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Original article
Occupational ionising radiation and risk of basal cell carcinoma in US radiologic technologists (1983–2005)
  1. Terrence Lee1,
  2. Alice J Sigurdson1,
  3. Dale L Preston2,
  4. Elizabeth K Cahoon1,
  5. D Michal Freedman1,
  6. Steven L Simon1,
  7. Kenrad Nelson3,
  8. Genevieve Matanoski3,
  9. Cari M Kitahara1,
  10. Jason J Liu1,
  11. Timothy Wang4,
  12. Bruce H Alexander5,
  13. Michele M Doody1,
  14. Martha S Linet1,
  15. Mark P Little1
  1. 1Radiation Epidemiology Branch, Division of Cancer Epidemiology and Genetics, National Cancer Institute, Rockville, Maryland, USA
  2. 2Hirosoft International, Eureka, California, USA
  3. 3Department of Epidemiology, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, Maryland, USA
  4. 4Department of Dermatology, Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, Maryland, USA
  5. 5Division of Environmental Health Sciences, School of Public Health, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA
  1. Correspondence to Dr Mark P Little, Radiation Epidemiology Branch, Division of Cancer Epidemiology and Genetics, National Cancer Institute, NIH, DHHS, 9609 Medical Center Drive, Room 7E546, MSC 9778, Rockville, MD 20892-9778, USA; mark.little{at}


Objective To determine risk for incident basal cell carcinoma from cumulative low-dose ionising radiation in the US radiologic technologist cohort.

Methods We analysed 65 719 Caucasian technologists who were cancer-free at baseline (1983–1989 or 1994–1998) and answered a follow-up questionnaire (2003–2005). Absorbed radiation dose to the skin in mGy for estimated cumulative occupational radiation exposure was reconstructed for each technologist based on badge dose measurements, questionnaire-derived work history and protection practices, and literature information. Radiation-associated risk was assessed using Poisson regression and included adjustment for several demographic, lifestyle, host and sun exposure factors.

Results Cumulative mean absorbed skin dose (to head/neck/arms) was 55.8 mGy (range 0–1735 mGy). For lifetime cumulative dose, we did not observe an excess radiation-related risk (excess relative risk/Gy=−0.01 (95% CI −0.43 to 0.52). However, we observed that basal cell carcinoma risk was increased for radiation dose received before age 30 (excess relative risk/Gy=0.59, 95% CI −0.11 to 1.42) and before 1960 (excess relative risk/Gy=2.92, 95% CI 1.39 to 4.45).

Conclusions Basal cell carcinoma risk was unrelated to low-dose radiation exposure among radiologic technologists. Because of uncertainties in dosimetry and sensitivity to model specifications, both our null results and our findings of excess risk for dose received before age 30 and exposure before 1960 should be interpreted with caution.

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