Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia in Chornobyl Cleanup Workers

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This paper describes the chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) incidence in a cohort of 110,645 (enlarged later to 152,520) male Ukrainian cleanup workers of the Chornobyl (Chernobyl) accident who were exposed to a range of radiation doses over the 1986–1990 time period. The standardized incidence rates are presented for a 27‐y period after the exposure. For 2007–2012 period, the authors have identified the incident CLL cases in an enlarged cohort of 152,520 persons by linkage of the cohort file with the Ukrainian National Cancer Registry (NCRU). CLL data for the previous period (1987–2006) were identified in a frame of the Ukrainian-American leukemia study in the original cohort of 110,645 male clean-up workers. A significant CLL incidence excess was shown for the entire study period 1987–2012, with more prominent levels for the earliest years (1987–1996) when the standardized incidence rate (SIR) value was estimated to be 3.61 with 95% confidence interval from 2.32 to 4.91. In 2007–2012, the CLL incidence decreased substantially but still exceeded the national level although not significantly. In parallel, the several studies were performed at the National Research Center for Radiation Medicine (NRCRM) to explore if any clinical and cytogenetic features of CLL existed in the clean-up workers. The clinical study included 80 exposed and 70 unexposed CLL cases. Among the major clinical differences of the CLL course in the clean-up workers were a shorter period of white blood cells (WBC) doubling (10.7 vs. 18.0; p<0.001), frequent infectious episodes, lymphoadenopathy and hepatosplenomegaly (37 vs. 16), higher expression for CD38, and lower expression for ZAP‐70 antigen.

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