Shore, R. E., Moseson, M., Xue, X., Tse, Y., Harley, N. and Pasternack, B. S. Skin Cancer after X-Ray Treatment for Scalp Ringworm. Radiat. Res. 157, 410–418 (2002).
Some 2,224 children given X-ray therapy for tinea capitis (ringworm of the scalp) have been followed for up to 50 years to determine cancer incidence, along with a control group of 1,380 tinea capitis patients given only topical medications. The study found a relative risk (RR) of 3.6 (95% confidence interval, 2.3–5.9) for basal cell skin cancer (BCC) of the head and neck among irradiated Caucasians (124 irradiated cases and 21 control cases), in response to a scalp dose of about 4.8 Gy. No melanomas of the head and neck have been seen, and only a few squamous cell carcinomas. About 40% of irradiated cases have had multiple BCCs, for a total of 328 BCCs. Although 25% of both the irradiated and control groups are African-American, only 3 skin cancers have been seen among them, all in the irradiated group, indicating the importance of susceptibility to UV radiation as a cofactor. Light complexion, severe sunburning and North European ancestry were predictive of BCC risk in the irradiated group, but chronic sun exposure was not. Children irradiated at young ages had the highest BCC risk. The RR for BCC risk is approximately constant with time since exposure, suggesting that risk will probably last for a lifetime.