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Indian J Endocrinol Metab. 2012 Dec;16(Suppl 2):S329-31. doi: 10.4103/2230-8210.104078.

Incidence of primary hypothyroidism in patients exposed to therapeutic external beam radiation, where radiation portals include a part or whole of the thyroid gland.

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Department of Endocrinology, Sher-i-Kashmir Institute of Medical Sciences, Soura, Srinagar, Jammu and Kashmir, India.



Hypothyroidism is a known consequence of external-beam radiotherapy to the neck encompassing a part or whole of the thyroid gland. In this non-randomized prospective study, we have tried to evaluate the response of the thyroid gland to radiation by assessing thyroid function before irradiation and at regular intervals after irradiation.


THE AIM OF THIS STUDY WERE TO ASSESS IN THE CANCER PATIENTS, WHO WERE EXPOSED TO THE THERAPEUTIC EXTERNAL BEAM RADIATION, WHERE RADIATION PORTALS INCLUDE A PART OR WHOLE OF THE THYROID GLAND: the incidence of primary hypothyroidism, the time required to become hypothyroid, any relation between the total dose for the development of hypothyroidism, and whether there are any patient or treatment-related factors that are predictive for the development of hypothyroidism, including the use of concurrent chemotherapy.


This non-randomized, prospective study was conducted for a period of 2 years in which thyroid function was assessed in 59 patients (cases) of head and neck cancer, breast cancer, lymphoma patients and other malignancies, who had received radiotherapy to the neck region. 59 euthyroid healthy patients (controls) were also taken, who had not received the neck irradiation. These patients/controls were assessed periodically for 2 years.


The incidence of hypothyroidism after external beam radiation therapy (EBRT) to neck where radiation portals include part or whole of the thyroid gland was 16.94%, seven cases had subclinical hypothyroidism (11.86%) and three cases had clinical hypothyroidism (5.08%). Mean time for development of hypothyroidism was 4.5 months. There was no effect of age, gender, primary tumor site, radiation dose and chemotherapy, whether neoadjuvant or concurrent with the development of hypothyroidism.


In summary, we found that thyroid dysfunction is a prevalent, yet easily treatable source of morbidity in patients undergoing radiation therapy to neck where radiation portals include a part or whole of the thyroid gland.


chemotherapy; external beam radiation; head and neck cancer; hypothyroidism

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