Introduction Technologists working in nuclear medicine (NM) are exposed to higher radiation doses than most other occupationally exposed populations. The aim of this study was to estimate the risk of cancer in NM technologists in relation to work history, procedures performed and radioprotection practices.
Methods From the US Radiologic Technologists cohort study, 72 755 radiologic technologists who completed a 2003–2005 questionnaire were followed for cancer mortality through 31 December 2012 and for cancer incidence through completion of a questionnaire in 2012–2013. Multivariable-adjusted models were used to estimate HRs for total cancer incidence and mortality by history of ever performing NM procedures and frequency of performing specific diagnostic or therapeutic NM procedures and associated radiation protection measures by decade.
Results During follow-up (mean=7.5 years), 960 incident cancers and 425 cancer deaths were reported among the 22 360 technologists who worked with NM procedures. We observed no increased risk of cancer incidence (HR 0.96, 95% CI 0.89 to 1.04) or death (HR 1.05, 95% CI 0.93 to 1.19) among workers who ever performed NM procedures. HRs for cancer incidence but not mortality were higher for technologists who began performing therapeutic procedures in 1960 and later compared with the 1950s. Frequency of performing diagnostic or therapeutic NM procedures and use of radioprotection measures were not consistently associated with cancer risk. No clear associations were observed for specific cancers, but results were based on small numbers.
Conclusion Cancer incidence and mortality were not associated with NM work history practices, including greater frequency of procedures performed.
- cohort study
- ionising radiation
- nuclear medicine
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