One Cancer is Enough

Thyroid cancer is often treated with radioactive iodine and can be tough on kids

(RxWiki News) Children and young adult patients have really great chances against thyroid cancer. However, a common treatment may cause big problems down the road.

A recent study looked at the use of radioactive iodine in thyroid cancer patients under the age of 25. Researchers found the use of radioactive iodine increased risk of secondary cancers.

"Talk to your doctor about safe treatment options."

Jennifer Marti, MD, from Beth Israel Medical Center in New York City, led the investigation.

Researchers were looking for evidence that radioactive iodine may lead to secondary primary malignancies, where a second cancer pops up in another organ or tissue, in children and young adults.

For the study, data was analyzed from 3,850 patients under the age of 25 who were treated between 1973-2008 for differentiated thyroid cancer.

In 1973, 4 percent of patients were treated with radioactive iodine compared to 62 percent in 2008.

Researchers went into the study expecting to find around 18 cases of secondary primary malignancies.

A total of 26 cases of second cancers were found. The most common were a salivary malignancy and leukemia, although the risk of leukemia did not reach statistical significance.

Over the entire study period, a total of 40 percent of patients were treated with radioactive iodine, which was found to contribute to the risk of developing second cancers.

Based on their findings, researchers estimate in the next 10 years approximately one out of every 227 children who was treated with radioactive iodine will develop secondary cancer, and one out of 588 of those will be salivary tumors.

This research was presented at the 82nd Annual Meeting of the American Thyroid Association September 19-23, 2012 in Quebec City, Canada. All research is considered primary until it has been published in a peer-reviewed journal.

Review Date: 
September 20, 2012