Uncertainty and sensitivity analysis in assessment of the thyroid cancer risk related to Chernobyl fallout in Eastern France

Risk Anal. 2005 Apr;25(2):243-52. doi: 10.1111/j.1539-6924.2005.00586.x.


The increase in the thyroid cancer incidence in France observed over the last 20 years has raised public concern about its association with the 1986 nuclear power plant accident at Chernobyl. At the request of French authorities, a first study sought to quantify the possible risk of thyroid cancer associated with the Chernobyl fallout in France. This study suffered from two limitations. The first involved the lack of knowledge of spontaneous thyroid cancer incidence rates (in the absence of exposure), which was especially necessary to take their trends into account for projections over time; the second was the failure to consider the uncertainties. The aim of this article is to enhance the initial thyroid cancer risk assessment for the period 1991-2007 in the area of France most exposed to the fallout (i.e., eastern France) and thereby mitigate these limitations. We consider the changes over time in the incidence of spontaneous thyroid cancer and conduct both uncertainty and sensitivity analyses. The number of spontaneous thyroid cancers was estimated from French cancer registries on the basis of two scenarios: one with a constant incidence, the other using the trend observed. Thyroid doses were estimated from all available data about contamination in France from Chernobyl fallout. Results from a 1995 pooled analysis published by Ron et al. were used to determine the dose-response relation. Depending on the scenario, the number of spontaneous thyroid cancer cases ranges from 894 (90% CI: 869-920) to 1,716 (90% CI: 1,691-1,741). The number of excess thyroid cancer cases predicted ranges from 5 (90% UI: 1-15) to 63 (90% UI: 12-180). All of the assumptions underlying the thyroid cancer risk assessment are discussed.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Cohort Studies
  • France
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Neoplasms, Radiation-Induced / epidemiology*
  • Power Plants
  • Radiation Dosage
  • Radiation, Ionizing
  • Radioactive Fallout
  • Radioactive Hazard Release
  • Registries
  • Risk
  • Risk Assessment*
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Thyroid Neoplasms / epidemiology*
  • Thyroid Neoplasms / etiology
  • Time Factors
  • Ukraine


  • Radioactive Fallout