Investigation of a cluster of ten cases of Hodgkin's disease in an occupational setting

G.M.H. Swaen*, J.J.M. Slangen, M.G. Ott, E. Kusters, G. van den Langenbergh, J.W. Arends, A. Zober

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


The objective of this study was to identify occupational exposures that might be etiologically linked to an unusual cluster of ten cases of Hodgkin's disease. The cases were identified within the active workforce of a large chemical manufacturing firm over a 23-year period by the medical director of the facilities. Based on comparison with regional cancer incidence rates, the standardized incidence ratio for Hodgkin's disease was 497 (95% confidence interval: 238-915) for the period from the construction of the facilities in 1966 through early 1992. A nested case-control study was undertaken with 200 controls selected according to case-cohort sampling. Simultaneously, efforts were initiated to confirm and characterize each case more fully. Occupational exposures were identified and categorized using process, work history, medical record, and industrial hygiene data. Tissue slides were available for eight cases and a second review confirmed the diagnosis of Hodgkin's disease. For one case, a final diagnosis of large-cell anaplastic lymphoma was determined after histology review. Among 214 different chemical agents studied, eight were identified to which three or more of the cases had been exposed prior to the date of their initial diagnosis. Exposure odds ratios were statistically elevated for five of these agents; dose-response evaluations for two of the agents, ethylene oxide and benzene, failed to provide additional support for a causal relationship. In conclusion, although several statistical associations were identified, no substance emerged as a likely candidate for explaining the observed Hodgkin's disease cluster.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)224-228
JournalInternational Archives of Occupational and Environmental Health
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 1996

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