Thyroid cancer among persons given x-ray treatment in infancy for an enlarged Thymus Gland

Roy E. Shore, Nancy Hildreth, Philip Dvoretsky, Elena Andresen, Miriam Moseson, Bernard Pasternack

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

112 Scopus citations


A cohort of 2,657 infants in Rochester, New York, who were given x-ray treatment for a purported enlarged thymus gland, along with 4,833 siblings, have been followed by mail surveys through about 1986, which represents an average of 37 years of follow-up, to determine their incidence of thyroid cancer. Estimated thyroid doses ranged from 0.03 to >10 Gy, with 62% receiving <0.5 Gy. There were 37 pathologically diagnosed thyroid cancers in the irradiated group and five in the sibling controls. The dose-response relation was essentially linear, with no evidence of an additional dose-squared component. The estimated relative risk at 1 Gy was 10 (90% confidence interval 5-23). Thyroid cancer rates were elevated even at low doses; i.e., a dose-response analysis over the range of 0-0.3 Gy showed a significant positive slope. The risk ratio was declining over time but was still highly elevated to at least 45 years after irradiation. An examination of potential risk factors showed that older age at first childbirth was significantly associated with thyroid cancer risk. An evaluation of interactions between possible risk factors and radiation suggested that Jewish subjects and women with older ages at menarche or at first childbirth were at greater risk for radiogenic thyroid cancer.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1068-1080
Number of pages13
JournalAmerican journal of epidemiology
Issue number10
StatePublished - May 15 1993
Externally publishedYes


  • Dose-response relationship, radiation
  • Neoplasms, radiation-induced
  • Radiation, ionizing
  • Thyroid neoplasms

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Epidemiology


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