Increased cancer risk among surgeons in an orthopaedic hospital

Occup Med (Lond). 2005 Sep;55(6):498-500. doi: 10.1093/occmed/kqi048.


Background: Five cancer cases over 7 years were reported in a small orthopaedic hospital where radiation protection practice was poor.

Aim: To investigate whether workers subject to routine radiation dosimetric assessment in that hospital had an increased cancer risk.

Methods: One hundred and fifty-eight workers subject to routine dose assessment and 158 age-sex-matched unexposed workers were questioned about cancer occurrence. All tumours were analysed as a single diagnostic category.

Results: Cumulative 1976-2000 cancer incidence was 29 (9/31), 6 (8/125) and 4% (7/158) in orthopaedics, exposed other than orthopaedics, and unexposed workers, respectively. At logistic regression analysis, working as orthopaedic surgeon significantly (P<0.002) increased the risk of tumours.

Conclusion: These findings caution against surgeons' underestimation of the potential radiation risk and insufficient promotion of safe work practices by their health care institutions.

MeSH terms

  • Epidemiologic Methods
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Male
  • Medical Staff, Hospital*
  • Neoplasms, Radiation-Induced / etiology*
  • Occupational Diseases / etiology*
  • Occupational Exposure / adverse effects*
  • Orthopedics*
  • Radiation Dosage
  • Risk Factors
  • Surveys and Questionnaires