Occupational Risk Factors for Sarcoma Subtypes

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Herbicides, chlorophenols, and other occupational exposures are suspected risk factors for soft-tissue sarcoma, but the epidemiologic evidence is inconsistent. Given that soft-tissue sarcomas represent a heterogeneous mix of cancer subtypes and that these subtypes have different disease patterns by race, sex, and age at diagnosis, studying all soft-tissue sarcomas combined may mask subtype-specific associations. Using the Selected Cancers Study, a large population-based case-control study of sarcoma conducted among U.S. men aged 30 to 60 in 1984 to 1988, we explored the occupational risk factors for soft-tissue sarcoma subtypes and skeletal sarcoma. The analysis included 251 living sarcoma cases (48 dermatofibrosarcoma protuberans, 32 malignant fibrohistiocytic sarcoma, 67 leiomyosarcoma, 53 liposarcoma, and 51 skeletal sarcoma) and 1908 living controls. Exact conditional logistic regression models suggested patterns of subtype specificity for occupational exposures. Self-reported herbicide use was associated with malignant fibrohistiocytic sarcoma (OR = 2.9, 95% CI = 1.1–7.3). We found elevated risks for chlorophenol exposure and cutting oil exposure and malignant fibrohistiocytic sarcoma and leiomyosarcoma. We found no occupational risk factor for liposarcoma. Polytomous regression models identified different odds ratios across subtypes for plywood exposure and exposure to wood and saw dust. Although exploratory, this analysis suggests that occupational risk factors for sarcoma are not uniform across subtypes. (Epidemiology 1999;10:300–306)

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