Thyroid Cancer: Incidence on the Rise, Cause Unknown

David Goldenberg MD, FACS Professor of Surgery and Oncology Director of Head and Neck Surgery Associate Director of Surgical Services- Penn State Hershey Cancer Institute Division of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery The Pennsylvania State UniversityThe Milton S. Hershey Medical Center 500 University Drive, P.O. Box 850 H091 Hershey, PA 17033 MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
David Goldenberg MD, FACS

Professor of Surgery and Oncology
Director of Head and Neck Surgery
Associate Director of Surgical Services- Penn State Hershey Cancer Institute
Division of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery
The Pennsylvania State UniversityThe Milton S. Hershey Medical Center, Hershey, PA 17033

MedicalResearch.com: What are the main findings of this study?

Dr. Goldenberg: The incidence of thyroid cancer is on the rise and has nearly tripled in the last thirty years.

Some authors have attributed this increase in incidence to improved sensitivity of diagnostic techniques and imaging allowing for diagnosis of small insignificant thyroid cancers. Others do not agree and state that is a real rise in this disease.
Many patients have their cancer discovered by accident when they undergo a diagnostic study for some other reason- such as trauma, neck pain, or carotid artery studies (for clogged arteries).

We aimed to compare incidentally discovered versus non incidentally discovered thyroid cancers to determine whether the thyroid cancers in both groups harbor different characteristics.

We found that patients incidentally discovered thyroid cancers were older, had higher stage (more advanced) disease and were more likely to be men.

These findings imply that improved detection may not be the only cause for the increased incidence of thyroid cancer

So the question is If there is an actual increase in the incidence of thyroid cancer why might that be?

Unknown- Environmental ? Hormonal?

We recently published our work looking into the three mile island vicinity as a etiological factor- no association found (Published the Laryngoscope).

We recently complete a study looking at Radon as a causative factor- no association found (Under peer review).

We have a couple of other exciting studies cooking (stay tuned!!).

MedicalResearch.com: What would be needed to really answer the question?

Dr. Goldenberg:

  • Further research and research dollars.
  • It seems that since the prognosis for thyroid cancer is excellent funding for thyroid cancer projects is scarce.

MedicalResearch.com: What is the prognosis and treatment for someone diagnosed with this cancer?

Dr. Goldenberg:

  • Treatment: Surgery followed by radioactive iodine treatment.
  • The prognosis for most (not all) thyroid cancers is excellent.

Citation:

Characteristics of Incidentally Discovered Thyroid Cancer

Yoo F, Chaikhoutdinov I, Mitzner R, Liao J, Goldenberg D. Characteristics of Incidentally Discovered Thyroid Cancer. JAMA Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 2013;():-. doi:10.1001/jamaoto.2013.5050.