The carcinogenicity of electron radiation relative to argon ions in rat skin was examined, specifically investigating whether the linear-quadratic model is useful for predicting cancer yield for one type of radiation based on yields observed for a different type. Three experiments were conducted to obtain information on the relationship between cancer yield and the dose of electron radiation: (1) a conventional dose-response protocol where the number of rats per group was based on the expected tumor yield; (2) a multiple-fraction protocol designed to take advantage of yield additivity as a way to estimate carcinogenicity at lower doses; and (3) a protocol to examine the effect of age at the time of irradiation on the dose-response relationship for cancer induction. Published data on the induction of skin cancer in rats irradiated with electrons were reanalyzed and combined with results of the new experiments. Skin cancer yield versus dose for argon ions was consistent with the linear-quadratic model, but the cancer yield for electrons was considerably lower (by a factor of 6.7 at 10 Gy) than the prediction based on the linear-quadratic model. The cancer yield for electron radiation was better fitted by a dose-cubed power function than a linear-quadratic function. The results indicate a substantially lower carcinogenic effectiveness for electron radiation, especially at lower doses, in comparison to argon ions and suggest that electrons may cause cancer by a three-event pathway instead of the two-event pathway that is consistent with the results for argon ions.

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