The risk of cancer in female orthopaedic surgeons is unknown. The present study was motivated by anecdotal reports of cancer occurring in female orthopaedic surgeons. In one residency program, three of twelve women were diagnosed with cancer during residency or shortly after graduation. We conducted a cross-sectional survey to determine whether the prevalence of cancer overall, and breast cancer specifically, was higher in practicing female orthopaedic surgeons compared with the general U.S. population.
Materials and Methods
In 2007, inquiries into professional orthopaedic surgeon organizations yielded no comprehensive public listing of practicing female surgeons. Therefore, the 2006 membership directory of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS) was used to obtain the names and mailing addresses of all female orthopaedic surgeons who were AAOS fellows. In ambiguous cases, we determined the sex of the surgeon by searching the Internet or making a telephone call to the physician’s office number. We identified 657 potentially eligible AAOS fellows and mailed each one a cover letter explaining the purpose of the study, a survey, and a stamped, return-addressed envelope in July 2007. A follow-up letter and identical survey were mailed in October 2007. Duplicate surveys were deleted. These duplicates were identified because the survey respondent wrote on the survey that it was a duplicate or informed the investigator by e-mail that a duplicate was returned by mail. Other duplicates were identified because the information on the first and second survey was identical. Survey responses were collected between July 2007 and August 2008. Responses from forty-two individuals indicated that they were male (thirteen), not orthopaedic surgeons (fourteen), or retired (fifteen), and therefore ineligible for the study. Of the remaining 615 surveyed individuals, 499 (81.1%) responded and were eligible for the study.
The survey included questions about the participant’s age, years in practice, type of practice, and current in-office …
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