Skip to main content

Thyroid cancer incidence in Ukraine: trends with reference to the Chernobyl accident


For the first time, a comparative analysis of thyroid cancer incidence in Ukraine after the Chernobyl accident was done in a cohort that is almost as large as the general population. On the basis of thyroid doses from radioactive iodine in individuals aged 1–18 years at the time of accident, geographic regions of Ukraine with low and high average accumulated thyroid doses were established and designated “low-exposure” and “high-exposure” territories, respectively. A significant difference of thyroid cancer incidence rates as a function of time between the two territories was found. That is, the increase in the incidence was higher in high-exposure regions than in low-exposure regions. The incidence rates varied substantially among the different attained age-groups, especially in the youngest one (up to 19 years old). The analysis that was adjusted for screening and technological effects also indicated that in the high-exposure regions, thyroid cancer incidence rates at the age of diagnosis of 5–9, 10–14 and 15–19 years were significantly higher in those born in 1982–1986 compared to those born in 1987–1991, while in the low-exposure regions, no significant difference was observed. The observed probable excess of radiation-induced thyroid cancer cases in adults exposed to radioactive iodine from the Chernobyl accident, especially in females, may be due to the high power of the present study. However, it should be noted that our investigation was not essentially free from ecological biases.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

Fig. 1
Fig. 2
Fig. 3


  1. Bobylyova O (ed) (1999) Health indices and medical care for persons affected due to the Chernobyl accident, 1998. Part 1 (for all territories). Kyiv (in Ukrainian)

  2. Committee on the Biological Effects of Ionizing Radiation (1990) Commission on Life Science. Health effects of exposure of low levels of ionizing radiation (BEIR-V). National Academy of Sciences—National Research Council. National Academy Press, Washington, DC

  3. Davis S, Stepanenko V, Rivkind N, Kopecky KJ, Voillequé P, Shakhtarin V, Parshkov E, Kulikov S, Lushnikov E, Abrosimov A, Troshin V, Romanova G, Doroschenko V, Proshin A, Tsyb A (2004) Risk of thyroid cancer in the Bryansk Oblast of the Russian Federation after the Chernobyl power station accident. Radiat Res 162:241–248

    Article  Google Scholar 

  4. Dedov VI, Dedov II, Stepanenko VF (1993) Radiation endocrinology. Moscow (in Russian)

  5. Demidchik E, Demidchik Y, Gedrevich Z, Mrochek A, Ostapenko V, Kenigsberg J, Buglova E, Sidorov Y, Kondratovich V, Baryach V, Dubovskaya E, Veremeichuk V, Mankouskaya S (2002) Thyroid cancer in Belarus. In: Yamashita S, Shibata Y, Hoshi M, Fujimura K (eds) Chernobyl: message for the 21st century. Esceptra Medica, International congress series 1234, pp 69–76

  6. Franceschi S, Boyle P, Maisonneuve P, La Vecchia C, Burt A, Kerr D, MacFarlane G (1993) The epidemiology of thyroid carcinoma. Crit Rev Oncog 4:25–52

    Google Scholar 

  7. Gulak L, Fedorenko Z, Goroh Ye, Sumkina O, Romanov D, Ryzhov A, Kutsenko L (2004) Institute of oncology of Academy of Medical Sciences of Ukraine. Ukrainian National Cancer Register. Cancer incidence in Ukraine—results of 21-years monitoring. Kyiv (in Ukrainian)

  8. Hatch M, Ron E, Bouville A, Zablotska L, Howe G (2005) The Chernobyl disaster: cancer following the accident at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. Epidemiol Rev 27:56–66

    Article  Google Scholar 

  9. Ivanov VK, Tsyb AF, Gorsky AI, Maksioutov MA (1999) Dynamics of thyroid cancer incidence in Russia following the Chernobyl accident: eco-epidemiological analysis. Radiat Risk 11:9–20

    Google Scholar 

  10. Ivanov VK, Gorski AI, Tsyb AF, Maksioutov MA, Vlasov OK, Godko AM (2002) Risk of radiogenic thyroid cancer in the population of the Bryansk and Oryol regions of Russia after the Chernobyl accident (1991–1998). In: Yamashita S, Shibata Y, Hoshi M, Fujimura K (eds) Chernobyl: message for the 21st century. Esceptra Medica, International congress series 1234, pp 85–94

  11. Ivanov VK, Gorski AI, Maksioutov MA, Vlasov OK, Godko AM, Tsyb AF, Tirmarche M, Valenty M, Verger P (2003) Thyroid cancer incidence among adolescents and adults in the Bryansk region of Russia following the Chernobyl accident. Health Phys 84:46–60

    Article  Google Scholar 

  12. Ivanov V, Tsyb A, Ivanov S, Pokrovsky V (2004) Medical radiological consequences of the Chernobyl catastrophe in Russia: estimation of radiation risks. Nauka, St. Petersburg

    Google Scholar 

  13. Ivanov VK, Chekin SY, Kashcheev VV, Maksioutov MA, Tumanov KA (2008) Risk of thyroid cancer among Chernobyl emergency workers of Russia. Radiat Environ Biophys 47:463–467

    Article  Google Scholar 

  14. Jacob P, Bogdanova TI, Buglova E, Chepurniy M, Demidchik Y, Gavrilin Y, Kenigsberg J, Meckbach R, Schotola C, Shinkarev S, Tronko MD, Ulanovsky A, Vavilov S, Walsh L (2006) Thyroid cancer risk in areas of Ukraine and Belarus affected by the Chernobyl accident. Radiat Res 165:1–8

    Article  Google Scholar 

  15. Kazakov VS, Demidchik EP, Astakova LN (1992) Thyroid cancer after Chernobyl. Nature 359:21

    Article  ADS  Google Scholar 

  16. Kenigsberg JE, Buglova EE, Kruk JE, Golovneva AL (2002) Thyroid cancer among children and adolescents of Belarus exposed due to the Chernobyl accident: dose and risk assessment. In: Yamashita S, Shibata Y, Hoshi M, Fujimura K (eds) Chernobyl: message for the 21st century. Esceptra Medica, International congress series 1234, pp 293–300

  17. Kopecky KJ, Stepanenko V, Rivkind N, Voillequé P, Onstad L, Shakhtarin V, Parshkov E, Kulikov S, Lushnikov E, Abrosimov A, Troshin V, Romanova G, Doroschenko V, Proshin A, Tsyb A, Davis S (2006) Childhood thyroid cancer, radiation dose from Chernobyl, and dose uncertainties in Bryansk Oblast, Russia: a population-based case-control study. Radiat Res 166:367–374

    Article  Google Scholar 

  18. Likhtarov I, Kovgan L, Vavilov S, Chepurny M, Bouville A, Luckyanov N, Jacob P, Voillequé P, Voigt G (2005) Post-Chornobyl thyroid cancers in Ukraine. Report 1: estimation of thyroid doses. Radiat Res 163:125–136

    Article  Google Scholar 

  19. Likhtarov I, Kovgan L, Vavilov S, Chepurny M, Ron E, Lubin J, Bouville A, Tronko N, Bogdanova T, Gulak L, Zablotska L, Howe G (2006) Post-Chornobyl thyroid cancers in Ukraine. Report 2: risk analysis. Radiat Res 166:375–386

    Article  Google Scholar 

  20. Mahoney M, Lawvere S, Falkner K, Averkin Y, Ostapenko V, Michalek A, Moysich K, McCarthy P (2004) Thyroid cancer incidence trends in Belarus: examining the impact of Chernobyl. Int J Epidemiol 33:1–9

    Article  Google Scholar 

  21. Moysich KB, Menezes RJ, Michalek AM (2002) Chernobyl-related ionising radiation exposure and cancer risk: an epidemiological review. Lancet Oncol 3:269–279

    Article  Google Scholar 

  22. Parkin D, Muir C, Whelan S, Gao,Y, Fenlay J, Powell J (1992) Cancer incidence in five continents. IARC Scientific Publication 120, International Agency for Research on Cancer, Lyon

  23. Prysyazhnyuk A, Pjatak O, Buzunov V, Reeves GK, Beral V (1991) Cancer in the Ukraine, post-Chernobyl. Lancet 338:1334–1335

    Article  Google Scholar 

  24. Prysyazhnyuk A, Gristchenko V, Zakordonets V, Fuzik M, Slipenyuk K, Ryzhak I (1995) The time trends of cancer incidence in the most contaminated regions of the Ukraine before and after the Chernobyl accident. Radiat Environ Biophys 34:3–6

    Article  Google Scholar 

  25. Prysyazhnyuk A, Gulak L, Gristchenko V, Fedorenko Z (2002) Cancer incidence in Ukraine after the Chernobyl accident. In: Yamashita S, Shibata Y, Hoshi M, Fujimura K (eds) Chernobyl: message for the 21st century. Esceptra Medica, International congress series 1234, pp 281–291

  26. Prysyazhnyuk A, Gristchenko V, Fedorenko Z, Gulak L, Fuzik M, Slipenyuk K, Tirmarche M (2007) Twenty years after the Chernobyl accident: solid cancer incidence in various groups of the Ukrainian population. Radiat Environ Biophys 46:43–51

    Article  Google Scholar 

  27. Ron E (2007) Thyroid cancer incidence among people living in areas contaminated by radiation from the Cernobyl accident. Health Phys 93:502–511

    Article  Google Scholar 

  28. Rothman KJ (1986) Modern epidemiology. Little, Brown and Company, Boston

    Google Scholar 

  29. Shibata Y, Yamashita S, Masyahin VB, Panasyuk GD, Nagataki S (2001) 15 years after Chernobyl: new evidence of thyroid cancer. Lancet 358:1965–1966

    Article  Google Scholar 

  30. Shshepotin I, Fedorenko Z, Gaisenko A, Gulak L, Goroh Y, Ryzhov A, Sumkina O, Kutsenko L, Pushkar L (2009) Cancer in Ukraine, 2007–2008. Bulletin on the National cancer register No. 10, Kyiv (in Ukrainian)

  31. Smith P (1987) Comparison between registries: age-standardized rates. In: Muit CS, Waterhouse JAH, Mack TM, Powell J, Whelan S (eds) Cancer incidence in five continents, vol 5 (IARC Scientific Publications No. 88). International Agency Research on Cancer, Lyon, pp 790–795

  32. Sobolev B, Likhtarev I,Kairo I, Tronko N, Oleynik V, Bogdanova T (1996). Radiation risk assessment of the thyroid cancer in Ukrainian children exposed due to Chernobyl. In: Karaoglou A, Desmet G, Kelly GN, Menzel HG (eds) The radiological consequences of the Chernobyl accident. Report No EUR 16544 EN, Official Publications of the European Communities, Luxemburg, pp 741–748

  33. Tirmarche M, Catelinois O (2002) Assessment of health consequences of the Chernobyl accident in France. Eurosafe, Berlin, seminar 4: environment and radiation protection, pp 17–25

  34. Tronko M, Bogdanova T, Likhtarev I, Komissarenko I, Kovalenko A, Markov V, Tereshchenko V, Voskoboynyk L, Zurnadzhy L, Shpak V, Gulak L, Elisei R, Romei C, Pinchera A (2009) Thyroid cancer in Ukraine after the Chernobyl accident: incidence, pathology, treatment and molecular biology. In: Nakashima M, Takamura N, Tsukasaki K, Nagayama Y, Yamashita S (eds) Radiation health risk sciences. Springer, Japan, pp 305–316

  35. United Nations Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation (UNSCEAR) (2000) Sources and effects of ionizing radiation, vol II. Effects. United Nations, New York (NY)

  36. Verger P, Catelinois O, Tirmarche M, Chérié-Challine L, Pirard P, Colonna M, Hubert P (2003) Thyroid cancers in France and the Chernobyl accident: risk assessment and recommendations for improving epidemiological knowledge. Health Phys 85:323–329

    Article  Google Scholar 

  37. Williams D (2008) Twenty years’ experience with post-Chernobyl thyroid cancer. Best Pract Res Clin Endocrinol Metab 22(6):1061–1073

    Article  Google Scholar 

  38. Winkelmann RA, Okeanov A, Gulak L, Remennik L, Rahu M, Storm HH (1998) Cancer registration techniques in the New Independent States of the former Soviet Union. IARC Technical report No 35, Lyon

Download references

Author information



Corresponding author

Correspondence to M. Fuzik.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Fuzik, M., Prysyazhnyuk, A., Shibata, Y. et al. Thyroid cancer incidence in Ukraine: trends with reference to the Chernobyl accident. Radiat Environ Biophys 50, 47–55 (2011).

Download citation


  • Thyroid Cancer
  • Radioactive Iodine
  • Probable Excess
  • Chernobyl Accident
  • Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant