Pattern of radiation-induced thyroid gland changes in nasopharyngeal carcinoma patients in 48 months after radiotherapy

Zhixiong Lin, Zhining Yang, Binghui He, Dangdang Wang, Xiaoyin Gao, Shing Yau Tam, Vincent Wing Cheung Wu

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10 Citations (Scopus)


Objectives Radiation-induced hypothyroidism is the most common thyroid disorder after radiotherapy in nasopharyngeal carcinoma (NPC) patients. This study evaluated the pattern of radiation-induced thyroid gland changes in 48 months after radiotherapy in NPC patients and the association of hypothyroidism incidence with thyroid dose. Methods Fifty-six NPC patients treated by intensity modulated radiotherapy in 2013 were recruited. All patients received baseline thyroid hormones (fT3, fT4 and TSH) tests and CT scan before radiotherapy. Repeated measures of the thyroid hormones and gland volume were performed at 3, 6, 12, 18, 24, 30, 36 and 48 months after treatment. Trend lines of the thyroid volume and hormone level changes against time were plotted. The incidence of hypothyroidism patients and its relationship with the dose were also evaluated. Results The mean thyroid volume followed a decreasing trend after radiotherapy, reaching a minimum (-39.8%) at 30 months and slightly increased afterward. The fT4 level followed a similar pattern with its mean value dropped by 21.5% at 30 months and became steady after 36 months. TSH level showed gradual rise from just after radiotherapy, reaching a peak at 24 months and became relatively steady after 36 months. The incidence of hypothyroidism increased to a maximum at 24 months (28.6%) and dropped afterwards. Thyroid Dmean and D50 were significantly correlated with hypothyroidism incidence in 12 to 30 months (ρ > 0.40, p < 0.05). Conclusion The patterns of radiation induced thyroid volume shrinkage and fT4 level reduction were similar, with both of them showed decreasing trend from 0 to 30 months. The thyroid volume and function reached a relatively steady state after 36 months. The incidence of hypothyroidism increased up to 24 months and its frequency was associated with the thyroid dose.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0200310
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 9 Jul 2018

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • General

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