Assessment of thyroid cancer risk associated with radiation dose from personal diagnostic examinations in a cohort study of US radiologic technologists, followed 1983-2014

Mark P. Little, Hyeyeun Lim, Melissa C. Friesen, Dale L. Preston, Michele M. Doody, Alice J. Sigurdson, Gila Neta, Bruce H. Alexander, Lienard A. Chang, Elizabeth K. Cahoon, Steven L. Simon, Martha S. Linet, Cari M. Kitahara

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Objective To assess whether personal medical diagnostic procedures over life, but particularly those associated with exposure in adulthood, were associated with increased thyroid cancer risk. Design Participants from the US Radiologic Technologists Study, a large, prospective cohort, were followed from the date of first mailed questionnaire survey completed during 1983-1989 to the earliest date of self-reported diagnosis of thyroid cancer or of any other cancer than non-melanoma skin cancer (NMSC) in any of three subsequent questionnaires up to the last in 2012-2014. Setting US nationwide, occupational cohort. Participants US radiologic technologists with exclusion of: Those who reported a previous cancer apart from NMSC on the first questionnaire; those who reported a cancer with an unknown date of diagnosis on any of the questionnaires; and those who did not respond to both the first questionnaire and at least one subsequent questionnaire. Primary outcome measure We used Cox proportional hazards models with age as timescale to compute HRs and 95% CI for thyroid cancer in relation to cumulative 5-year lagged diagnostic thyroid dose. Results There were 414 self-reported thyroid cancers (n=275 papillary) in a cohort of 76 415 persons. Cumulative thyroid dose was non-significantly positively associated with total (excess relative risk/Gy=2.29 (95% CI â '0.91 to 7.01, p=0.19)) and papillary thyroid cancer (excess relative risk/Gy=4.15 (95% CI â '0.39, 11.27, p=0.08)) risk. These associations were not modified by age at, or time since, exposure and were independent of occupational exposure. Conclusion Our study provides weak evidence that thyroid dose from diagnostic radiation procedures over the whole of life, in particular associated with exposure in adulthood, influences adult thyroid cancer risk.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere021536
JournalBMJ open
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 1 2018

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Funding This work was supported by National Institutes of Health Intramural Research Program, but otherwise received no specific grant from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors. This work was funded by the Intramural Research Program of the Division of Cancer Epidemiology and Genetics, National Cancer Institute, National Institutes of Health.

Publisher Copyright:
© Article author(s) (or their employer(s) unless otherwise stated in the text of the article) 2018. All rights reserved. No commercial use is permitted unless otherwise expressly granted.


  • cancer
  • cancer epidemiology
  • cohort studies
  • epidemiological methods
  • radiation


Dive into the research topics of 'Assessment of thyroid cancer risk associated with radiation dose from personal diagnostic examinations in a cohort study of US radiologic technologists, followed 1983-2014'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this