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August 5, 1992

Thyroid Nodules in the Population Living Around Chernobyl

Author Affiliations

From the School of Medicine, Department of Radiology, University of New Mexico, Albuquerque (Drs Mettler and Williamson); School of Medicine, Department of Radiology, Washington University, St Louis, Mo (Dr Royal); School of Medicine, Department of Nuclear Medicine, New York Hospital, Cornell Medical Center, New York (Dr Hurley); School of Medicine, Department of Nuclear Medicine, Royal Brisbane (Australia) Hospital (Dr Khafagi); School of Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of Birmingham (United Kingdom) (Dr Sheppard); Imperial Cancer Research Fund, Cancer Epidemiology Unit, Radcliffe Infirmary, Oxford, United Kingdom (Drs Beral and Reeves); Radioisotope; Laboratory, University of Cincinnati (Ohio), Hospital Medical Center (Dr Saenger); Internal Medicine, Radiation Effects Research Foundation, Nagasaki, Japan (Dr Yokoyama); Medical Radiology Institute, Academy of Medical Sciences, Obninsk, Russian Federation (Dr Parshin); Institute of Biophysics, Ministry of Health, Moscow, Russian Federation (Dr Griaznova); and the Union Scientific Center for Radiation Medicine, Kiev, Ukraine (Drs Taranenko, Chesin, and Cheban).

JAMA. 1992;268(5):616-619. doi:10.1001/jama.1992.03490050064027

Objective.  —To determine the baseline incidence, prevalence, and characteristics of thyroid nodules in the population living around the Chernobyl nuclear power plant and to compare the findings with unexposed populations.

Design.  —Prevalence study. Population samples from seven highly contaminated villages were compared with six nearby control villages of the same size and type. The data were obtained as part of the International Chernobyl Project conducted in 1990.

Setting.  —The study was conducted 4.5 years after the Chernobyl reactor accident that released large quantities of radionuclides, including radioiodine.

Patients or Other Participants.  —Population samples of approximately 100 persons residing in both highly contaminated villages and control villages since the accident were compared. Individuals were selected on the basis of birth date as being 5, 10, 40, or 60 years old at the time of the study. All persons selected underwent a thyroid examination.

Interventions.  —None.

Main Outcome Measures.  —Two main outcome measures were used, both for thyroid nodularity: clinical palpation and high-resolution ultrasonography.

Results.  —There was no significant difference in thyroid nodularity between the study groups. Nodules were palpated in 0.7% of children and 2.9% of adults. Discrete nodules were found by ultrasonography in 0.5% of children and 14.9% of adults. Multinodular goiter was found in 3% of adults. Nodules were more common in females.

Conclusions.  —Four and a half years after the Chernobyl accident, the incidence, prevalence, and characteristics of thyroid nodules were the same in population samples from both highly contaminated and control settlements and similar to results reported for unexposed populations in other countries.(JAMA. 1992;268:616-619)