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.