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Cancer Causes Control. 1998 Aug;9(4):393-401.

Skin tumor risk among atomic-bomb survivors in Japan.

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Radiation Epidemiology Branch, National Cancer Institute, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland, USA.



Elevated risks of skin cancer following high doses of ionizing radiation have long been known. Recent reports on atomic-bomb survivors indicate that nonmelanoma skin cancer can be induced at low to medium doses. We studied atomic-bomb survivors to determine the effects of radiation on specific histologic types of skin cancer and to describe the dose-response relationship.


Cases of melanoma, nonmelanoma skin cancers, and Bowen's disease were ascertained between 1958 and 1987 for the 80,000 cohort members through the population-based Hiroshima and Nagasaki (Japan) tumor registries augmented by searches of other records.


An excess of basal cell carcinoma (n = 80), with some suggestion of a non-linear dose-response, was observed. The excess risk decreased markedly as age at exposure increased, and there was no evidence for an interaction between ionizing and ultraviolet radiation. No dose-response was found for squamous cell carcinoma (n = 69). The excess relative risk point-estimates were large, but statistically nonsignificant for both melanoma (n = 10) and Bowen's disease (n = 26).


The basal layer of the epidermis appears to be quite sensitive to radiation carcinogenesis, particularly at a young age. The suprabasal layer seems to be more resistant, as shown by the lack of an association for squamous cell carcinomas.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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