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Is There a Thyroid Cancer Epidemic?

Your chances of being diagnosed with thyroid cancer is more than twice what it was 30 years ago.

The chance of receiving a diagnosis of thyroid cancer—a cancer of the butterfly-shaped gland in the front of the neck that plays an important role in metabolism—has more than doubled in the last 30 years. This makes thyroid cancer the most rapidly increasing cancer in the United States, according to a January 2016 report from the American Cancer Society.

Why We’re Seeing More Thyroid Cancer

But this increase in the diagnosis of thyroid cancer doesn’t necessarily mean that rates of the disease are skyrocketing. The surge in this diagnosis appears to be primarily due to an increase in the use of thyroid ultrasound imaging tests, which can detect thyroid nodules that are so small they might otherwise have never been noticed.

If biopsied, such thyroid nodules may show cancer, but are generally considered unlikely to cause harm: “Most (such) cancers don’t need treatment because they grow slowly, or not at all,” says H. Gilbert Welch, M.D., a professor of medicine at the Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy and Clinical Practice in Hanover, N.H., and author of “Overdiagnosed: Making People Sick in the Pursuit of Health” (Beacon Press, 2011).

For example, in a study published in 2014 in JAMA Otolaryngology—Head & Neck Surgery, Welch and colleague Louise Davies, M.D., looked at statistics on adults diagnosed with thyroid cancer between 1975 and 2009 in nine areas of the U.S. They found that the increases in diagnoses of thyroid cancer were primarily related to these typically harmless thyroid nodules.

Read Full Article: Is There a Thyroid Cancer Epidemic? – Consumer Reports

Read Full Article: Is There a Thyroid Cancer Epidemic? – Consumer Reports

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