Reevaluation of silicosis and lung cancer in North Carolina dusty trades workers

Am J Ind Med. 1992;22(2):147-53. doi: 10.1002/ajim.4700220202.


We previously reported on the lung cancer mortality through 1983 of 760 males who were diagnosed with silicosis during 1930-1983 by the State of North Carolina's medical examination program for dusty trades workers. The lung cancer SMR (95% confidence interval) was 2.6 (1.8-3.6) among 655 white members of this group. In this paper, we report the results of a reanalysis of mortality among a subgroup for whom chest radiographs were currently available for rereading. Technically acceptable radiographs were available for 306 white males and were independently reclassified for pneumoconiosis by 3 "B" readers using the 1980 ILO Classification. Lung cancer SMRs were 1.7 (0.8-3.1) for the entire group of 306 white males, 2.5 (1.1-4.9) for 143 subjects reclassified as simple silicosis, and 1.0 (0.1-3.5) for 96 subjects whose radiographs were reclassified as ILO category 0. There were no lung cancer deaths among 67 subjects whose radiographs were reclassified as progressive massive fibrosis. Corresponding lung cancer SMRs for subjects who had never been employed in a job with exposure to known occupational carcinogens were 1.2 (0.2-4.4) for those reclassified as category 0, and 2.4 (1.0-5.0) for those reclassified as having simple silicosis. The age-adjusted lung cancer rate ratio among subjects with simple silicosis compared to those with category 0 was 1.5 (0.4-5.8). Our findings from this reanalysis, which effectively controls for misclassification of silicosis due to errors in radiograph interpretation by North Carolina program readers, offer additional evidence consistent with the hypothesis of an association between silicosis and lung cancer in this study group.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Evaluation Studies as Topic
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Lung Neoplasms / etiology
  • Lung Neoplasms / mortality*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • North Carolina / epidemiology
  • Occupational Diseases / etiology
  • Occupational Diseases / mortality*
  • Radiography
  • Silicosis / complications
  • Silicosis / diagnostic imaging*
  • Smoking / adverse effects