We investigated thyroid function in 119 survivors of treatment for brain tumours not involving the hypothalamo-pituitary region. Cranial irradiation did not effect thyroid function but 11 of 47 children (23%) who had spinal irradiation had raised concentrations of thyroid stimulating hormone. Chemotherapy further increased the incidence of thyroid dysfunction: two of four patients who had cranial irradiation and chemotherapy and 20 of 29 patients (69%) who had spinal irradiation and chemotherapy had increased thyroid stimulating hormone concentrations. Only six patients with raised thyroid stimulating hormone concentrations had low serum thyroxine concentrations. Four children had secondary hypothyroidism. Thyroid function should be monitored in children who have received chemotherapy or radiotherapy. A rise in thyroid stimulating hormone concentrations is the most sensitive indicator of thyroid dysfunction. Children with raised thyroid stimulating hormone concentrations should be treated with thyroxine.
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