Histopathologic Analysis of Lung Cancer Incidence Associated with Radon Exposure among Ontario Uranium Miners

Ramkissoon A, Navaranjan G, Berriault C, Villeneuve PJ, Demers PA, Do MT. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health 2018;15(11):2413.

Although radon is a well-established contributor to lung cancer mortality among uranium miners, the effects of radon decay products on different histopathologies of lung carcinoma are not well established. Using a retrospective cohort design, this study aims to examine the risks of lung cancer by histological subtypes associated with exposure to radon decay products among the Ontario Uranium Miners cohort. Cases were stratified by histological groups, and associated risks were estimated for cumulative radon exposure after adjustment for attained age and calendar period. Between 1969 and 2005, 1274 incident cases of primary lung cancer were identified. Of these, 1256 diagnoses (99%) contained information on histology. Squamous cell carcinoma was most common (31%), followed by adenocarcinoma (20%), large cells (18%), small cell lung carcinoma (14%), and other or unspecified cell types (17%). Of the histological sub-groups, small cell lung carcinoma had the strongest association with cumulative radon exposure; compared to the reference group (<1 cumulative working level months (WLM)), the highest exposure category (>60 cumulative WLM) had a relative risk (RR) of 2.76 (95% CI: 1.67–4.57). Adenocarcinoma had the lowest risk and was not significantly associated with exposure to radon decay products (RR = 1.49, 95% CI: 0.96–2.31). An increasing, linear trend in relative risk was noted with increasing cumulative WLM across small cell, squamous cell, and large cell lung carcinomas (Ptrend < 0.05). Similarly, the excess relative risk (ERR) per WLM was highest for small cell lung carcinoma (ERR/WLM = 0.15, p < 0.01), followed by squamous cell carcinoma (ERR/WLM = 0.12, p < 0.01). Non-statistically significant excess risk was observed for adenocarcinoma (ERR/WLM = 0.004, p = 0.07). Our analysis of the Ontario Uranium Miners cohort data shows differences in the magnitude of the risks across four histological subtypes of lung carcinoma; the strongest association was noted for small cell lung carcinoma, followed by squamous cell, large cell, and lastly adenocarcinoma, which showed no significant associations with exposure to radon decay products.