Cancer Prevalence among a Cross-sectional Survey of Female Orthopedic, Urology, and Plastic Surgeons in the United States

Loretta B. Chou, Lori B. Lerner, Alex H S Harris, Ashley J. Brandon, Sabine Girod, Lesley M. Butler

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


Background: Exposure to ionizing radiation from fluoroscopy performed during surgery, although low and within established limits, remains a health concern among surgeons. Estimates of breast cancer prevalence among women across surgery specialties with different patterns of fluoroscopy use are needed to evaluate this concern. Methods: Female U.S. surgeons in urology, plastics, and orthopedics were identified using national directories and mailed surveys to collect information on occupational and medical history, including cancer diagnoses. Standardized prevalence ratios (SPRs) and 95% CIs were calculated by dividing the observed number of cancers among female surgeons in each specialty by the expected number, based on the gender-specific, age-specific, and race-specific cancer prevalence statistics in the general U.S. population. Results: Standard fluoroscopy use more than once per week was common among urologists (54%) and orthopedists (37%); the same frequency of mini fluoroscopy use was only common among orthopedics (31%) and hardly ever used by urologists. Plastic surgeons reported very infrequent use of any fluoroscopy. For orthopedic surgeons, a significantly greater than expected prevalence of any cancer (SPR, 1.85; 95% CI, 1.19-2.76) and breast cancer (SPR, 2.90; 95% CI, 1.66-4.71) were observed. There was no difference between the observed and expected prevalence of any cancer or breast cancer for urology or plastics. Conclusions: Using the first available cancer prevalence data comparing female surgeons across three specialties, we report that orthopedic surgeons have a greater than expected prevalence of cancer that may or may not be owing to occupational exposure to ionizing radiation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)476-481
Number of pages6
JournalWomen's Health Issues
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 1 2015
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Obstetrics and Gynecology
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Maternity and Midwifery
  • Health(social science)


Dive into the research topics of 'Cancer Prevalence among a Cross-sectional Survey of Female Orthopedic, Urology, and Plastic Surgeons in the United States'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this