Occupational radiation exposure was estimated, and the cancer incidence among physicians working with radiation was compared to that of unexposed physicians.
A cohort of 1312 physicians was identified from the Finnish occupational radiation exposure registry. Radiation exposure data were obtained from 1970 to 2001 on the basis of individual dosimeters. Never-monitored Finnish physicians (N=15 821) were used as a reference group, identified from census data of Statistics Finland. Incident cancer cases were identified by record linkage with the Finnish Cancer Registry.
The cumulative radiation dose exceeded the recording level (0.3-3.0 mSv during a 3-month period for 1029 radiation-exposed physicians (59.8%). Six percent of the radiologists had received a cumulative dose of 50 mSv or more. Altogether there were 41 cancers observed among the radiation-exposed physicians and 998 cases found in the never-monitored group. Standardized incidence ratios (SIR) for all cancers were comparable with those of the general population among physicians monitored for radiation [SIR 1.0, 95% confidence interval (95% CI) 0.7-1.4] and other physicians (SIR 1.0, 95% CI 1.0-1.1). For specific cancer sites, a slightly elevated risk of female breast cancer was found among monitored physicians when compared with other physicians (rate ratio 1.7, 95% CI 1.0-3.1). No obvious dose-response relationship was found for the overall cancer incidence.
According to the results from a nationwide cohort, occupational exposure to medical radiation is not a strong risk factor for cancer among physicians. Possible excess risk could not be reliably demonstrated even after the follow-up of a nationwide cohort for up to 30 years.
The aim of this study was to estimate the prevalence of lens opacities among physicians occupationally exposed to radiation - overall and by occupational factors - and to assess the feasibility of a large-scale study for risk assessment.
Based on a nationwide registry of 1312 physicians, mostly radiologists with occupational exposure to ionizing radiation, 120 subjects were invited to participate, of which 59 (49%) consented. The inclusion criteria included (i) age 45-70 years, (ii) cumulative recorded radiation dose >10 mSv, and (iii) duration of work with dose monitoring >15 years. The participants completed a questionnaire regarding occupational history and other risk factors for lens opacities. A full ophthalmological examination was performed. Lenticular changes were graded using the Lens Opacities Classification System, version II (LOCS II), and the Nidek EAS-1000 Scheimpflug slit-imaging videophotography system.
Lens opacities were detected in 42% [95% confidence interval (95% CI) 29-55] of the 57 physicians without prior cataract surgery. Nuclear opacities were found in 14% (95% CI 6-26), cortical in 7% (95% CI 2-19), and posterior subcapsular in 5% (95% CI 1-15) of the subjects. The prevalence of lens opacities increased with age, smoking, and cumulative recorded radiation dose. After controlling for age, gender, and smoking, the excess odds ratio for any lens opacity was 0.13 (95% CI -0.02-0.28) per 10 mSv of cumulative radiation dose.
Our preliminary results show cortical and posterior subcapsular lens opacities among physicians exposed to occupational radiation, consistent with recent studies on low dose radiation exposure. A full study with an unexposed reference group for risk estimation is warranted.