A just published study in the Journal of American Medical Association: Otolaryngology has shown up over-diagnosis of cancer and treatment of unthreatening tumors for the 300% increase in thyroid cancer researchers have seen since 1975. There has been an ever-increasing body of evidence that detailed questions certain scientists had about the need for aggressive cancer treatment.
The treatment of certain types of cancers (often ones in the prostate, breast and lung) is sometimes not considered to be medically necessary since they would not become deadly to the individual. Thyroid cancer is also said to be similar.
As many of you already know, your thyroid governs the release of hormones in the body and helps do many things like regulate your metabolism. Thyroid cancer involves the removal of the gland from your throat and then involves a lifetime of hormone pills to supplement its loss.
Approximately 85% of people diagnosed with thyroid cancer have the gland removed. This is in sharp contrast with a medical guidelines that advise against aggressive surgery for certain types of low-risk thyroid tumors.
The researchers involved with the study surveyed a large amount of government medical data that spanned from 1975 to 2009. A pair of colleagues from Dartmouth University found that thyroid cancer rose substantially from 5 per 100,000 people to 14 per 100,000 people. The majority of those diagnosed had papillary thyroid cancer – considered to be 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. While physicians are pleased with an increased range of detection methods, the researchers involved with this study were firm 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.