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Plasma Thyroglobulin in Detecting Thyroid Carcinoma after Childhood Head and Neck Irradiation

ARTHUR B. SCHNEIDER, M.D., Ph.D.; MURRAY J. FAVUS, M.D.; MAX E. STACHURA, M.D.; JOHN E. ARNOLD, M.D.; U. YUN RYO, M.D., Ph.D.; STEVEN PINSKY, M.D.; MARTIN COLMAN, M.D.; MARGARET J. ARNOLD, R.N.; and LAWRENCE A. FROHMAN, M.D.
[+] Article and Author Information

Grant support: from the Medical Research Institute of the Michael Reese Medical Center.

Reagents used for the TSH radioimmunoassay were provided by the Pituitary Hormone Distribution Program of the National Institutes of Health.

This paper was presented in part at the 57th Annual Meeting of the Endocrine Society, New York, New York, 1975.

Dr. Schneider is the Recipient of a U. S. Public Health Service Career Development Award, No. 1-K04 AM 00103.

▸Requests for reprints should be addressed to Arthur B. Schneider, M.D.; Division of Endocrinology and Metabolism, Michael Reese Medical Center, 29th St. and Ellis Ave.; Chicago, IL 60616.


Chicago, Illinois


Ann Intern Med. 1977;86(1):29-34. doi:10.7326/0003-4819-86-1-29
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The level of thyroglobulin in plasma was measured in 904 subjects with a history of head and neck irradiation during childhood to evaluate its potential value in screening for and differentiating thyroid neoplasms. Mean plasma thyroglobulin level was significantly elevated in subjects with nodular thyroid disease versus those without evidence of nodules (49.8 versus 27.0 ng/ml). However, the overlap with normal subjects does not allow thyroglobulin assays to serve as the only screening procedure. The mean levels in subjects with benign and malignant thyroid nodules were indistinguishable (48.8 versus 53.9 ng/ml). Thirteen percent of otherwise normal-appearing subjects had elevated values that may represent clinically inapparent thyroid disease. It is concluded that in screening large numbers of persons at risk for thyroid neoplasia, thyroglobulin assays are useful in combination with other modes of evaluation. The assay is without value in distinguishing benign from malignant disease.

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