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Adult Thyroid Cancer After Head and Neck Irradiation in Infancy and Childhood

FRANK O. BECKER, M.D., F.A.C.P.; STEVEN G. ECONOMOU, M.D.; HARRY W. SOUTHWICK, M.D.; and REUBEN EISENSTEIN, M.D.
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▸Requests for reprints should be addressed to Frank O. Becker, M.D., 1753 W. Congress, Chicago, IL 60612.


Chicago, Illinois


Ann Intern Med. 1975;83(3):347-351. doi:10.7326/0003-4819-83-3-347
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We report the surgical-pathologic findings in 15 adults who had had a history of irradiation to the head and neck in childhood. These patients were selected for thyroid surgery because of a "cold" area or areas detected on 99mTc thyroid scan, with or without palpable thyroid abnormalities. Eight of the fifteen patients had thyroid cancer, and 3 had atypical adenomas. We found multiple lesions in 12 patients. Macroscopic and microscopic malignancy in a location different from the cold area or areas occurred in 5 of the 8 cancer patients. In view of these findings, we recommend that adults who received irradiation to the head and neck in childhood and who have been found to have an abnormal thyroid scan or thyroid examination, or both, have a total thyroidectomy.

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