Thyroid cancer and employment as a radiologic technologist

Erik W. Zabel, Bruce H. Alexander, Steven J. Mongin, Michele M. Doody, Alice J. Sigurdson, Martha S. Linet, D. Michal Freedman, Michael Hauptmann, Kiyohiko Mabuchi, Elaine Ron

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37 Scopus citations


The association between chronic occupational ionizing radiation exposure in the medical field and thyroid cancer is not well characterized. Thyroid cancer incidence was ascertained for 2 periods in a cohort of radiologic technologists certified for a minimum 2 years and enumerated in 1983: (i) cases identified prospectively in 73,080 radiologic technologists who were free of thyroid cancer at the baseline survey and completed a second questionnaire a decade later (N = 121), and (H) cases occurring prior to cohort enumeration among 90,245 technologists who completed the baseline survey and were thyroid cancer free 2 years after certification (N = 148). Survival analyses estimated risks associated with employment as a radiologic technologist, including duration of employment, period of employment, types of procedures and work practices. The only occupational history characteristic associated with prospectively identified thyroid cancer was a history of holding patients for X-ray procedures at least 50 times (HR = 1.47, 95% CI = 1.01-2.15). Total years worked as a radiologic technologist, years performing diagnostic, therapeutic, and nuclear medicine procedures, employment under age 20 and calendar period of first employment were not associated with thyroid cancer risk. Risk of thyroid cancers diagnosed before the baseline questionnaire was inversely associated with decade first employed as a technologist, and was elevated, albeit imprecisely, among those working more than 5 years prior to 1950 (HR = 3.04, 95% CI = 1.01-10.78). These data provide modest evidence of an association between employment as a radiologic technologist and thyroid cancer risk; however, the findings require confirmation with more accurate exposure models.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1940-1945
Number of pages6
JournalInternational Journal of Cancer
Issue number8
StatePublished - Oct 15 2006


  • Epidemiology
  • Ionizing radiation
  • Occupational exposure
  • Thyroid cancer


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