Thyroid carcinoma in children and adolescents in Ukraine after the Chernobyl nuclear accident: statistical data and clinicomorphologic characteristics

M D Tronko, T I Bogdanova, I V Komissarenko, O V Epstein, V Oliynyk, A Kovalenko, I A Likhtarev, I Kairo, S B Peters, V A LiVolsi
Cancer 1999 July 1, 86 (1): 149-56

BACKGROUND: The increase in the number of childhood thyroid carcinoma cases in Ukraine after the Chernobyl nuclear accident in 1986 prompted the development of a registry of thyroid carcinoma cases at the Institute of Endocrinology and Metabolism in Kiev. In the current study, the authors report the statistical data and clinicomorphologic features of the cases included in this registry.

METHODS: To study the incidence, and age and gender distribution of thyroid carcinoma in Ukraine, the authors compiled complete clinical information from cases diagnosed and treated at the Institute of Endocrinology and Metabolism and statistical reports submitted to the registry from 27 regions of Ukraine. Morphologic features of the resected tumors were examined and were included in the database.

RESULTS: During the 5 years preceding the Chernobyl nuclear accident, a total of 59 cases of thyroid carcinoma were identified in the birth to 18 years age group (25 in children age < or = 14 years and 34 in adolescents ages 15-18 years). Between 1986 and 1997, the total number of thyroid carcinomas in Ukrainian children and adolescents was 577 (358 children and 219 adolescents). Morphologically, the thyroid tumors overwhelmingly were papillary carcinomas, and the majority of these also showed a follicular and/or solid growth pattern. Lymph node metastases and other extrathyroidal spread were common, thus necessitating total thyroidectomy and lymph node dissections in many patients.

CONCLUSIONS: Between 1990 and 1997, a significant increase in the incidence of thyroid carcinoma was noted in children and adolescents in Ukraine; the group most affected was comprised of the individuals who were age < or = 5 years in 1986 (the year of the Chernobyl nuclear accident). The largest number of cases occurred in patients living in areas of thyroid radiation doses of > or =0.50 grays. The morphologic features of those thyroid tumors suggest that they are aggressive tumors with a high frequency of lymph node metastases, venous invasion, and extrathyroidal spread.

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