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A National Institutes of Health study has found long-term increased risk of cancer death following treatment for hyperthyroidism. 

The study, published July 1 in JAMA Internal Medicine, found that patients who received radioactive iodine (RAI) treatment for hyperthyroidism show an association between the dose of treatment and long-term risk of death from solid cancers, including breast cancer.

“We estimated that for every 1,000 patients treated currently using a standard range of doses, about 20 to 30 additional solid cancer deaths would occur as a result of the radiation exposure," said Cari Kitahara, Ph.D., of NCI’s Division of Cancer Epidemiology and Genetics, lead author of the study.

The news release said RAI has been used widely in the United States for the treatment of hyperthyroidism since the 1940s. It is one of three commonly used treatments for hyperthyroidism. The other two are anti-thyroid drugs, which have been rising in popularity, and surgical treatment, which is used least often.

According to the researchers, in the United States, about 1.2 percent of the population has hyperthyroidism. Women are much more likely to develop the condition than men. Dr. Kitahara said that makes the findings for breast cancer mortality particularly relevant.

“We found the increased risks of death from solid cancer overall and from breast cancer more specifically to be modest, but RAI is still a widely used treatment for hyperthyroidism,” she said. “It’s important for patients and their physicians to discuss the risks and benefits of each available treatment option. The results of our study may contribute to these discussions.”

For more information, visit nih.gov.

— Email: wholdren@register-herald.com and follow on Twitter @WendyHoldren

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