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Endocr Pract. 2015 Jun;21(6):686-96. doi: 10.4158/EP14466.DSCR.

AMERICAN ASSOCIATION OF CLINICAL ENDOCRINOLOGISTS AND AMERICAN COLLEGE OF ENDOCRINOLOGY DISEASE STATE CLINICAL REVIEW: THE INCREASING INCIDENCE OF THYROID CANCER.

Abstract

OBJECTIVE:

(1) Describe current epidemiology of thyroid cancer in the United States; (2) evaluate hypothesized causes of the increased incidence of thyroid cancer; and (3) suggest next steps in research and clinical action.

METHODS:

Analysis of data from Surveillance, Epidemiology and End Results System and the National Center for Vital Statistics. Literature review of published English-language articles through December 31, 2013.

RESULTS:

The incidence of thyroid cancer has tripled over the past 30 years, whereas mortality is stable. The increase is mainly comprised of smaller tumors. These facts together suggest the major reason for the increased incidence is detection of subclinical, nonlethal disease. This has likely occurred through: health care system access, incidental detection on imaging, more frequent biopsy, greater volumes of and extent of surgery, and changes in pathology practices. Because larger-size tumors have increased in incidence also, it is possible that there is a concomitant true rise in thyroid cancer incidence. The only clearly identifiable contributor is radiation exposure, which has likely resulted in a few additional cases annually. The contribution of the following causes to the increasing incidence is unclear: iodine excess or insufficiency, diabetes and obesity, and molecular disruptions. The following mechanisms do not currently have strong evidence to support a link with the development of thyroid cancer: estrogen, dietary nitrate, and autoimmune thyroid disease.

CONCLUSION:

Research should focus on illuminating which thyroid cancers need treatment. Patients should be advised of the benefits as well as harms that can occur with treatment of incidentally identified, small, asymptomatic thyroid cancers.

PMID:
26135963
PMCID:
PMC4923940
DOI:
10.4158/EP14466.DSCR
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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