The article by Lindelöf and Eklund in this issue of the Archives1 is an important contribution to our knowledge of the potential side effects of dermatologic roentgen-ray therapy. Their monumental study of 14140 patients in Sweden is the first large-scale quantitative study of the carcinogenicity of grenz rays; it confirms anecdotal reports that grenz rays, an ultrasoft type of roentgen-ray, can cause skin cancer in a very small number of cases exposed to higher doses.
Since many dermatologists are confused about the true extent of the risks of dermatologic radiation therapy, the following review will give a brief summary of the available scientific data. Recent research has stressed the importance of quantitative risk assessments to permit comparisons with other risk factors, such as background radiation, hazards of other modes of therapy, and various life-style risks. Although more data are available on the
Goldschmidt H. Dermatologic RadiotherapyThe Risk-Benefit Ratio. Arch Dermatol. 1986;122(12):1385-1388. doi:10.1001/archderm.1986.01660240049013