Chernobyl follow-up study finds high survival rate among young thyroid cancer patients

April 24, 2013

Chevy Chase, MD--More than a quarter of a century after the Chernobyl nuclear disaster, many children and teenagers who developed thyroid cancer due to radiation are in complete or near remission, according to a recent study accepted for publication in The Endocrine Society's Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism (JCEM).

Following the April 26, 1986 explosion and fire at the Chernobyl nuclear plant in the former Soviet Union, the number of children and teenagers diagnosed with differentiated thyroid cancer spiked in Ukraine, Belarus and western areas of Russia. Most of the patients developed the papillary subtype of differentiated thyroid cancer. Although this cancer tends to be more aggressive in children than adults, nearly all of the patients tracked in the study responded favorably to treatment.

"Even though some patients did not receive optimal treatment initially, the vast majority went into remission after receiving state-of-the-art radiodine treatment and follow-up care," said study lead author Christoph Reiners, MD, of the University of Würzburg, Germany. "Many patients recovered from advanced cancers. Of this group, 97 percent had cancer spread to the lymph nodes, and 43 percent had cancer metastasize in the lungs."

The observational study followed the treatment and outcomes of 229 Belarusian children and adolescents who underwent surgery in Belarus and radioiodine therapy in Germany. The study participants were among the highest-risk young patients exposed to radiation from the accident.

Despite the risk, 64 percent of the patients are in complete remission and 30 percent nearly complete remission of their cancer. One patient died of lung fibrosis, a side effect of cancer treatment. Only two had cancer recurrences.

The findings suggest victims of more recent nuclear accidents like the 2011 Fukushima accident in Japan face lower risk of developing advanced-stage thyroid cancer, Reiners said.

"Although people fear a similar thyroid cancer 'epidemic' will affect Japan, the quick actions taken to evacuate or shelter residents and ban potentially contaminated foods following the Fukushima accident greatly reduced the risks of children developing radiation-induced thyroid cancer," Reiners said. "In addition, Chernobyl has taught us how important it is to have at-risk children and adolescents screened for thyroid cancer to catch any cases in their early stages. Because public health authorities are aware of the risks, screening programs for children from the Fukushima area already have been initiated."
-end-
Other researchers working on the study include: J. Biko, H. Haenscheid and H. Hebestreit of the University of Würzburg; S. Kirinjuk and O. Baranowski of the Hospital for Oncology in Minsk, Belarus; R. Marlowe of Spencer-Fountayne Corporation; E. Demidchik of the National Academy of Science in Minsk; V. Drozd of the International Fund Help for Patients with Radiation Induced Thyroid Cancer in Belarus; and Y. Demidchik of the Belaruisan Medical Academy of Post-Graduate Education.

The article, "Twenty-Five Years after Chernobyl: Outcome of Radiodine Treatment in Children and Adolescents with Very-High-Risk Radiation-Induced Differentiated Thyroid Carcinoma," was published online on April 24.

Founded in 1916, The Endocrine Society is the world's oldest, largest and most active organization devoted to research on hormones and the clinical practice of endocrinology. Today, The Endocrine Society's membership consists of over 16,000 scientists, physicians, educators, nurses and students in more than 100 countries. Society members represent all basic, applied and clinical interests in endocrinology. The Endocrine Society is based in Chevy Chase, Maryland. To learn more about the Society and the field of endocrinology, visit our site at http://www.endo-society.org. Follow us on Twitter at https://twitter.com/#!/EndoMedia.

The Endocrine Society

Related Cancer Articles from Brightsurf:

New blood cancer treatment works by selectively interfering with cancer cell signalling
University of Alberta scientists have identified the mechanism of action behind a new type of precision cancer drug for blood cancers that is set for human trials, according to research published in Nature Communications.

UCI researchers uncover cancer cell vulnerabilities; may lead to better cancer therapies
A new University of California, Irvine-led study reveals a protein responsible for genetic changes resulting in a variety of cancers, may also be the key to more effective, targeted cancer therapy.

Breast cancer treatment costs highest among young women with metastic cancer
In a fight for their lives, young women, age 18-44, spend double the amount of older women to survive metastatic breast cancer, according to a large statewide study by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Cancer mortality continues steady decline, driven by progress against lung cancer
The cancer death rate declined by 29% from 1991 to 2017, including a 2.2% drop from 2016 to 2017, the largest single-year drop in cancer mortality ever reported.

Stress in cervical cancer patients associated with higher risk of cancer-specific mortality
Psychological stress was associated with a higher risk of cancer-specific mortality in women diagnosed with cervical cancer.

Cancer-sniffing dogs 97% accurate in identifying lung cancer, according to study in JAOA
The next step will be to further fractionate the samples based on chemical and physical properties, presenting them back to the dogs until the specific biomarkers for each cancer are identified.

Moffitt Cancer Center researchers identify one way T cell function may fail in cancer
Moffitt Cancer Center researchers have discovered a mechanism by which one type of immune cell, CD8+ T cells, can become dysfunctional, impeding its ability to seek and kill cancer cells.

More cancer survivors, fewer cancer specialists point to challenge in meeting care needs
An aging population, a growing number of cancer survivors, and a projected shortage of cancer care providers will result in a challenge in delivering the care for cancer survivors in the United States if systemic changes are not made.

New cancer vaccine platform a potential tool for efficacious targeted cancer therapy
Researchers at the University of Helsinki have discovered a solution in the form of a cancer vaccine platform for improving the efficacy of oncolytic viruses used in cancer treatment.

American Cancer Society outlines blueprint for cancer control in the 21st century
The American Cancer Society is outlining its vision for cancer control in the decades ahead in a series of articles that forms the basis of a national cancer control plan.

Read More: Cancer News and Cancer Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.