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December 1986

Incidence of Malignant Skin Tumors in 14 140 Patients After Grenz-Ray Treatment for Benign Skin Disorders

Author Affiliations


From the Department of Dermatology and the Department of Cancer Epidemiology, Karolinska Sjukhuset, Stockholm.

Arch Dermatol. 1986;122(12):1391-1395. doi:10.1001/archderm.1986.01660240055015

• During the years 1949 to 1975, 14 237 patients received therapeutic doses of grenz rays for the treatment of benign skin disorders such as chronic eczema, psoriasis, and warts. The records of 14 140 of these patients (99.3%) formed the basis for an epidemiologic study of the incidence of skin malignancies in this population. Information about the patients, diagnoses, doses, and sites of treatment was obtained from separate records. The follow-up time was 15 years on the average. We searched the Swedish Cancer Registry, Stockholm, for records reporting the incidence of malignant skin tumors in the study population (incidences of basal cell carcinoma are not registered). The expected number of malignancies was calculated on the basis of age- and sex-standardized incidence data from the Swedish Cancer Registry. In 58 patients, a malignant skin tumor was diagnosed more than five years after grenzray therapy had first been administered. Nineteen patients had malignant melanomas, and 39 patients had other malignant skin tumors. The expected number of melanomas was 17.8, and that of other malignant skin tumors was 26.9. None of the patients with melanomas, and only eight of the patients with other malignant skin tumors, had received grenz-ray therapy at the site of the tumor. Six of these eight patients had also been exposed to other known carcinogens. Four hundred eighty-one patients had received an accumulated high dose of grenz rays (≥ 10 000 rad [≥ 100 Gy]) on one and the same area. No malignancies were found on those areas. Although we cannot exclude grenz-ray therapy as a risk factor in the development of nonmelanoma skin malignancies, this risk, if any, is small, if recommendations for therapy are followed.

(Arch Dermatol 1986;122:1391-1395)