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Rise in Thyroid Cancer Attributed to "Epidemic of Diagnosis" — Physician’s First Watch

Medical News |
February 21, 2014

Rise in Thyroid Cancer Attributed to "Epidemic of Diagnosis"

By Amy Orciari Herman

The sharp rise in thyroid cancer incidence seen in recent decades represents "not an epidemic of disease but rather an epidemic of diagnosis," researchers conclude in JAMA Otolaryngology — Head & Neck Surgery.

Using national data, the investigators examined U.S. trends in thyroid cancer diagnoses from 1975 to 2009. During that time, thyroid cancer incidence nearly tripled — an increase attributable to a rise in papillary tumors, which frequently do not cause symptoms. The increase in diagnoses was roughly fourfold higher in women than men. Thyroid cancer mortality remained stable during the nearly 35-year period.

Over 90% of those diagnosed underwent surgery, with about half also receiving radiotherapy.

The researchers write: "Clinicians ... need to be asking themselves whether they are looking too hard for thyroid cancer. Patients — and in the case of thyroid cancer, particularly women — need protection not only from the harms of unnecessary treatment but also the harms of unnecessary diagnosis."

Reader Comments (2)

Eduardo Javier Arias A Fundación Cardiovascular de Colombia FCV

In Colombia We have the same problem, And I have yo operate a lot,
Another problem is FNAB. Bethesda IV, everybody think That neoplasia is equal CÁNCER And They ask for surgery

Cheng Lin

May be there are too many so called occult sclerosing papillary carcinoma that is neglect and do by serial sections of a hard pathologist , and almost harmless throughout the life.

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