Investigation finds thyroid cancer patients may be radioactive after treatment

A recent congressional investigation has found that cancer patients who were sent home after treatment with radioactive iodine have contaminated hotel rooms and set off alarms on public transportation, the Associated Press reports.

Representative Edward Markey (D-MA) said that the problem stems from a decision made years ago by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) to ease requirements that thyroid cancer patients remain in the hospital a few days after swallowing doses of radioactive iodine to shrink their tumors, according to the news source.

"There is a strong likelihood that members of the public have been unwittingly exposed to radiation from patients," Markey wrote. "This has occurred because of weak NRC regulations, ineffective oversight of those who administer these medical treatments and the absence of clear guidance to patients and to physicians."

He also urged a ban on releasing patients to hotels and letting them take public transportation, and he called for tighter government oversight of medical facilities that provide treatment with radioactive iodine.

According to the National Cancer Institute, there are 19,500 thyroid cancer diagnoses in the U.S. annually.