Thyroid cancer is the fastest growing cancer in the U.S. and it impacts all ages. It is very rare in children under the age of 15, but the risk of malignancy is high. Happily, the pediatric cure rate is high too. Parents need to be aware of any unusual lumps and have them checked. Rates may also increase for cancer patients who have undergone radiation or been exposed to high radiation levels.
What Are Some Causes of Thyroid Cancer?
- Radiation therapy of the head, neck, or chest during childhood. This includes ultrasound, tomography, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), PET scanning or ultrasonography.
- Radiation exposure from nuclear plant fallout like the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear power plant reactor tragedy in Ukraine which resulted in nearly 4,000 cases of thyroid cancer in children.
- Genetics can play a role if a family member has had thyroid cancer.
- Dietary iodine intake is among a possible influence on thyroid cancer.
Just days after the Fukushima meltdown, The Radiation and Health Project of New York noted that
I-131 concentrations in US precipitation was measured up to 211 times above normal. Highest levels of I-131 and airborne gross beta were documented in the five US States on the Pacific Ocean. The number of congenital hypothyroid cases in these five states from March 17-December 31, 2011 was 16% greater than for the same period in 2010, compared to a 3% decline in 36 other US States (p < 0.03).
The University of Torino in Italy also studied pediatric thyroid tumors and found that pediatric thyroid malignancies had malignancy rates as high as 36% versus adult malignancy rates of 26.4%.
Routine health examinations are the best way to detect any enlarged thyroid nodules. One family shares their experience:
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