Medical consequences of nuclear accidents: Lessons of Chernobyl and Fukushima

Co-organized by the Permanent Mission of Ukraine and the Chernobyl Project.

Written By : Marli Kasdan

Speaker: Dr. Michael Tuttle, M.D., Prof (Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, Chairman of the National Comprehensive Cancer Network Thyroid Cancer Panel, Memorial Hospital)

Radioactivity-and-thyroid-cancerfig1During the discussion on Medical consequences of nuclear accidents, Dr. Tuttle addressed the audience and spoke about the recent thyroid cancer epidemic in the U.S and across the world. Thyroid cancer has been on the rise due to radiation exposure, and recently there has been a dramatic increase in the rate of thyroid cancer in the U.S.

This came to experts attention 10 years ago, when incidence rates rose from 3.6 per 100,000 to 8.7 per 100,000 cases. Dr. Tuttle pointed out that the vast majority of recent thyroid cancer cases are Papillary thyroid cancer, which comes from radiation exposure. The size of the tumors are typically between 0 and 1 cm.

Thyroid cancer is a cross cutting disease, in that it affects a wide range of age groups, ethnicities, etc. Typically, thyroid cancer is more common in women than in men, but increasing rates have been seen in both genders. Furthermore, in the U.S. thyroid cancer is increasing across all races and is not restricted to solely adults.

Between 1973 and 2004, there were 1,753 cases of pediatric thyroid cancer in the U.S. Dr. Tuttle also pointed out that this increase in thyroid cancer is not restricted to the U.S. Studies found increases in thyroid cancer in New Zealand, Australia, France, Israel, and other countries.

Dr. Tuttle finished up his statement by offering possible reasons of this world wide increase in thyroid cancer. He stated that part of the reason could be that in recent years, doctors have been screening more for thyroid cancer, so more cases are showing up.

However, he also pointed out the link between exposure to radiation and thyroid cancer and said that it took scientists many years to establish this link. Dr. Tuttle said that in the future scientists need to determine which thyroid cancers are caused by radiation and which are caused by other environmental factors.

Edited By : Wayne Dean Doyle

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