Issue #189 March 24, 2014
Welcome to KnowYourThyroid.
I hope everyone is well.
Today, Dr. David Stern discusses the large number of thyroid cancer diagnosis that are currently being made. He also points out that the mortality rate has not increased. Interesting, isn’t it.
Thyroid cancer and the epidemic of diagnosis
Researchers have analyzed the data over the past decades and have noticed a threefold increase in the incidence of thyroid cancers. Since 1975, thyroid cancers incidence has increased from 4.9 to 14.3 in every 100,000 people.
The commonest predisposing factors in the incidence of thyroid are believed to be age factor, most occurring in the ages between 25 and 65. Gender, with females being most affected commonly, races, Asians are most commonly affected, and genetic predisposition, having a history of thyroid disease in the family. Treatment with radiations is also thought to be a cause that contributes to the development of thyroid problems.
Assessments were made to analyze the increases in the incidence of thyroid cancers used the data of numerous patients across Atlanta, GA; Connecticut; Detroit, MI; Hawaii; Iowa; New Mexico; Utah; the San Francisco-Oakland area in California and the Seattle-Puget Sound area of Washington. The past medical record of the patients from 1975 to 2009 revealed that although there has been an increase in the incidence there have been no increases seen in the mortality rates, and the disease has stayed relatively stable throughout the period of the study i.e. 0.5 per 100,000 people die.
Researchers suspect that an over diagnosis is the culprit here. When diagnosed for any condition that has reveals no symptoms and potentially causes no harm, the practitioners cause an overall increase in the incidence rates. The researchers linked the over diagnosis to increased detection of a relatively less aggressive form of thyroid cancer known as the small papillary cancer.
“We found that there is an ongoing epidemic of thyroid cancer in the United States. It does not seem to be an epidemic of disease, however. Instead, it seems to be substantially an epidemic of diagnosis: thyroid cancer incidence has nearly tripled since 1975, while its mortality has remained stable.”
The researchers believe that instead of treating the cancer, the doctors should council their patients about its potential unthreatening course. The cancer should not be labelled as cancers and should be kept under strict surveillance instead of employing treatments, since they might not harm the health of a patient.
The researchers say that there is need of closer investigation of the risk factors of thyroid cancers.
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