To further understand the risk of stomach cancer after fractionated high-dose radiotherapy, we pooled individual-level data from three recent stomach cancer case-control studies. These studies were nested in cohorts of five-year survivors of first primary Hodgkin lymphoma (HL), testicular cancer (TC) or cervical cancer (CX) from seven countries. Detailed data were abstracted from patient records and radiation doses were reconstructed to the site of the stomach cancer for cases and to the corresponding sites for matched controls. Among 327 cases and 678 controls, mean doses to the stomach were 15.3 Gy, 24.7 Gy and 1.9 Gy, respectively, for Hodgkin lymphoma, testicular cancer and cervical cancer survivors, with an overall mean dose of 10.3 Gy. Risk increased with increasing radiation dose to the stomach cancer site (P < 0.001) with no evidence of nonlinearity or of a downturn at the highest doses (≥35 Gy). The pooled excess odds ratio per Gy (EOR/Gy) was 0.091 [95% confidence interval (CI): 0.036–0.20] with estimates of 0.049 (95% CI: 0.007–0.16) for Hodgkin lymphoma, 0.27 (95% CI: 0.054–1.44) for testicular cancer and 0.096 (95% CI: –0.002–0.39) for cervical cancer (P homogeneity = 0.25). The EOR/Gy increased with time since exposure (P trend = 0.004), with an EOR/Gy of 0.38 (95% CI: 0.12–1.04) for stomach cancer occurring ≥20 years postirradiation corresponding to odds ratios of 4.8 and 10.5 at radiation doses to the stomach of 10 and 25 Gy, respectively. Of 111 stomach cancers occurring ≥20 years after radiotherapy, 63.8 (57%) could be attributed to radiotherapy. Our findings differ from those based on Japanese atomic-bomb survivors, where the overall EOR/Gy was higher and where there was no evidence of an increase with time since exposure. By pooling data from three studies, we demonstrated a clear increase in stomach cancer risk over a wide range of doses from fractionated radiotherapy with the highest risks occurring many years after exposure. These findings highlight the need to directly evaluate the health effects of high-dose fractionated radiotherapy rather than relying on the data of persons exposed at low and moderate acute doses.
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Vol. 187 • No. 2