BackgroundPrevious studies showed an increased risk of thyroid cancer among children and adolescents exposed to radioactive iodines released after the Chornobyl (Chernobyl) accident, but the effects of screening, iodine deficiency, age at exposure and other factors on the dose-response are poorly understood.
MethodsWe screened 11 970 individuals in Belarus aged 18 years or younger at the time of the accident who had estimated (131)I thyroid doses based on individual thyroid activity measurements and dosimetric data from questionnaires. The excess odds ratio per gray (EOR/Gy) was modelled using linear and linear-exponential functions.
ResultsFor thyroid doses <5 Gy, the dose-response was linear (n=85; EOR/Gy=2.15, 95% confidence interval: 0.81-5.47), but at higher doses the excess risk fell. The EOR/Gy was significantly increased among those with prior or screening-detected diffuse goiter, and larger for men than women, and for persons exposed before age 5 than those exposed between 5 and 18 years, although not statistically significant. A somewhat higher EOR/Gy was estimated for validated pre-screening cases.
Conclusion10-15 years after the Chornobyl accident, thyroid cancer risk was significantly increased among individuals exposed to fallout as children or adolescents, but the risk appeared to be lower than in other Chornobyl studies and studies of childhood external irradiation.