There’s a new study published in Journal of American Medical Association: Otolaryngology.

It points to over-diagnosis of cancer and treatment of unthreatening tumors for the 300% increase in thyroid cancer researchers have seen since 1975. There’s increasing evidence on detailed questions certain scientists had about the need for aggressive cancer treatment.

Treating certain cancers (often prostate, breast and lung)may often not be considered medically necessary because  they would not become deadly to the individual. Thyroid cancer is also seen as similar.

Our thyroid governs the release of hormones in the body and helps do many things like regulate your metabolism. Thyroid cancer treatment removes the gland and  involves a lifetime of hormone pills.

Around 85% of people diagnosed with thyroid cancer have the gland removed. But… medical guidelines advise against aggressive surgery for certain types of low-risk thyroid tumors.

Researchers surveyed a large amount of government medical data from 1975 to 2009. Colleagues from Dartmouth University found that thyroid cancer rose substantially from 5 per 100,000 people to 14 per 100,000 people.

The majority diagnosed had papillary thyroid cancer – considered  the least deadly (and most common) form of the disease.

The use of ultrasound and radiation equipment can sometimes work against a person – making a tumor that was not going to be a problem rapidly turn into one. Certainly, physicians support an increased range of detection methods, but researchers involved with this study were clear that more serious treatments and surgeries are performed on thyroid cancer victims than are medically necessary.

The conclusions of the study encouraged doctors to introduce patients to the idea that small thyroid cancers may be made worse by attempting to treat it aggressively.

Further studies are planned to begin deciphering clues as to which types of tumors are going to progress past the stage of being small and unthreatening to those that place a persons life in jeopardy. In the near future, it may become more common for people to engage in close monitoring sessions than lengthy bouts of radiation or chemotherapy treatments.

Ian: And still we meet so many people whose strategy to prevent cancer begins on the day they are diagnosed!

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