A Case Study of Cancer Data Set Combinations for PCBs
Results of several animal bioassays have demonstrated the carcinogenic potential of polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB) mixtures. Although PCBs are no longer manufactured, cancer risk assessment for PCBs remains an important issue because of continued potential human exposure from many sources. The existing cancer risk estimate for PCBs used by the U.S.EPA is based on liver tumors observed in female Sprague-Dawley rats in a lifetime bioassay. Liver cancer has been observed in other long-term bioassays as well. In this case study, experimental designs and biological characteristics of the data from these studies were evaluated to determine whether a combination of the data sets is scientifically reasonable. A statistical analysis of the data sets based on likelihood ratio theory was used to assess the compatibility of individual data sets to a common multistage dose-response model.The results from these biologial and statistical assessments suggest that at least two data sets could be combined to derive a quantitative risk estimate for PCBs. Increased confidence in the quantitative estimate would result from such combination because more data are being used to assess the dose-response relationship.