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Probability Distribution of Dose and Dose-Rate Effectiveness Factor for use in Estimating Risks of Solid Cancers From Exposure to Low-Let Radiation

Kocher, David, C.; Apostoaei, A., Iulian; Hoffman, F., Owen; Trabalka, John, R.*†

doi: 10.1097/HP.0000000000000838
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This paper presents an analysis to develop a subjective state-of-knowledge probability distribution of a dose and dose-rate effectiveness factor for use in estimating risks of solid cancers from exposure to low linear energy transfer radiation (photons or electrons) whenever linear dose responses from acute and chronic exposure are assumed. A dose and dose-rate effectiveness factor represents an assumption that the risk of a solid cancer per Gy at low acute doses or low dose rates of low linear energy transfer radiation, R L, differs from the risk per Gy at higher acute doses, R H; R L is estimated as R H divided by a dose and dose-rate effectiveness factor, where R H is estimated from analyses of dose responses in Japanese atomic-bomb survivors. A probability distribution to represent uncertainty in a dose and dose-rate effectiveness factor for solid cancers was developed from analyses of epidemiologic data on risks of incidence or mortality from all solid cancers as a group or all cancers excluding leukemias, including (1) analyses of possible nonlinearities in dose responses in atomic-bomb survivors, which give estimates of a low-dose effectiveness factor, and (2) comparisons of risks in radiation workers or members of the public from chronic exposure to low linear energy transfer radiation at low dose rates with risks in atomic-bomb survivors, which give estimates of a dose-rate effectiveness factor. Probability distributions of uncertain low-dose effectiveness factors and dose-rate effectiveness factors for solid cancer incidence and mortality were combined using assumptions about the relative weight that should be assigned to each estimate to represent its relevance to estimation of a dose and dose-rate effectiveness factor. The probability distribution of a dose and dose-rate effectiveness factor for solid cancers developed in this study has a median (50th percentile) and 90% subjective confidence interval of 1.3 (0.47, 3.6). The harmonic mean is 1.1, which implies that the arithmetic mean of an uncertain estimate of the risk of a solid cancer per Gy at low acute doses or low dose rates of low linear energy transfer radiation is only about 10% less than the mean risk per Gy at higher acute doses. Data were also evaluated to define a low acute dose or low dose rate of low linear energy transfer radiation, i.e., a dose or dose rate below which a dose and dose-rate effectiveness factor should be applied in estimating risks of solid cancers.

*Oak Ridge Center for Risk Analysis, Inc., 102 Donner Drive, Oak Ridge, TN 37830; †Deceased.

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.

For correspondence contact: D. C. Kocher at the above address, or email at dck@orrisk.com.

(Manuscript accepted 11 December 2017)

© 2018 by the Health Physics Society