It is reported that the rate of thyroid cancer has more than tripled yearly between 1975 and 2013. While some believe this drastic increase is the result of improvements in the detection of thyroid cancer by doctors, others don’t believe that is the case. A study published on March 31 in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), states that thyroid cancer is a real, growing threat, as shown by the increase in cases of a specific type of thyroid cancer, known as advanced stage papillary thyroid cancer. There has also been a steady rise in deaths from the disease.
The study includes more than 77,000 cases of thyroid cancer which were documents in a National Cancer Institute (NCI) database between 1974 and 2013. Researchers stated that between 1994 and 2013 the number of cases of advanced forms of thyroid cancer rose by about 3 percent each year, with deaths rising by about 1 percent each year.
The National Cancer Institute acknowledged in a new study that there are better tools available now which are used in the detection of thyroid cancer, including diagnostic ultrasound and fine-needle biopsies.
WHO IS BEING AFFECTED BY THYROID CANCER?
According to the NCI, more than 60,000 Americans are currently diagnosed each year with a form of thyroid cancer. An estimated 75 percent of these patients are women and 82 percent are white.
WHAT IS CAUSING THE INCREASE IN THYROID CANCER?
There are several possible explanations offered by the study as to the increase in thyroid cancer cases. One of those factors could be the rise in obesity rates in the U.S. Oddly enough, another possible factor mentioned is the decrease in smoking. Researchers found that smoking was associated with a 30 to 40 percent lower chance of developing thyroid cancer. While no one is suggesting that people begin smoking, it is an interesting association that was discovered.
Another factor could be exposure to a group of chemicals and pollutants known as polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs). These can be found in the environment and in people’s food and homes. PBDEs include flammable-resistant chemicals found in clothing, furniture, certain pesticides, and some chemicals that can be found in foods and plastics.
Despite the increase in cases of thyroid cancer, it remains to be one of the most treatable forms of cancer. Additionally, strides continue to be made in the treatment of many different types of cancer.