A two-stage stochastic model of carcinogenesis is used to analyze lung tumor incidence in 3750 rats exposed to varying regimens of radon carried on a constant-concentration uranium ore dust aerosol. New to this analysis is the parameterization of the model such that cell killing by the α particles could be included. The model contains parameters characterizing the rate of the first mutation, the net proliferation rate of initiated cells, the ratio of the rates of cell loss (cell killing plus differentiation) and cell division, and the lag time between the appearance of the first malignant cell and the tumor. Data analysis was by standard maximum likelihood estimation techniques. Results indicate that the rate of the first mutation is dependent on radon and consistent with in vitro rates measured experimentally, and that the rate of the second mutation is not dependent on radon. An initial sharp rise in the net proliferation rate of initiated cells was found with increasing exposure rate (denoted model I), which leads to an unrealistically high cell-killing coefficient. A second model (model II) was studied, in which the initial rise was attributed to promotion via a step function, implying that it is due not to radon but to the uranium ore dust. This model resulted in values for the cell-killing coefficient consistent with those found for in vitro cells. An "inverse dose-rate" effect is seen, i.e. an increase in the lifetime probability of tumor with a decrease in exposure rate. This is attributed in large part to promotion of intermediate lesions. Since model II is preferable on biological grounds (it yields a plausible cell-killing coefficient), such an effect would not be seen in the absence of an irritant such as uranium ore dust. This analysis presents evidence that a two-stage model describes the data adequately and generates hypotheses regarding the mechanism of radon-induced carcinogenesis.

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