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Cancer Res. 1991 Jun 1;51(11):2885-8.

Therapeutic radiation at a young age is linked to secondary thyroid cancer. The Late Effects Study Group.

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Division of Cancer Etiology, National Cancer Institute, Bethesda, Maryland 20892.


We estimated the risk of thyroid cancer among 9170 patients who had survived 2 or more years after the diagnosis of a cancer in childhood. As compared with the general population, patients had a 53-fold increased risk (95% confidence interval, 34-80). Risk increased significantly with time since treatment for the initial cancer (P = 0.03). Detailed treatment data were obtained for 23 cases and 89 matched controls from the childhood cancer cohort. Sixty-eight % of the thyroid cancers arose within the field of radiation. Radiation doses to the thyroid of greater than 200 cGy were associated with a 13-fold increased risk (95% confidence interval, 1.7-104). The risk of thyroid cancer rose with increasing dose (P less than 0.001), but this was derived almost entirely from the increase from less than 200 to greater than 200 cGy. The risk of thyroid cancer did not decrease, however, at radiation doses as high as 6000 cGy.

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