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Global trends in thyroid cancer incidence and the impact of overdiagnosis

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  • Global trends in thyroid cancer incidence and the impact of overdiagnosis
    Global trends in thyroid cancer incidence and the impact of overdiagnosisPublished:June, 2020DOI:

    In recent decades, the incidence of thyroid cancer in several affluent countries has markedly increased,
    although mortality from thyroid cancer has remained relatively low and stable or has steadily declined in these and other countries.
    This increase in incidence has predominantly been a reflection of the growing scrutiny of the thyroid gland with ultrasonography and other diagnostic techniques.
    Overdiagnosis is the detection and histological confirmation of a disease that would have otherwise not been diagnosed in a person's lifetime had testing not been done....
    Removing the Thyroid From Images, Not From Patients
    H. Gilbert Welch, MD, MPH1
    Author Affiliations
    JAMA Intern Med. 2020;180(6):896-897. doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2020.0958

    In March 2011, a major earthquake and tsunami hit the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant in Japan, causing the reactor to melt down. Five years later, children living near the plant were reported to have rates of thyroid cancer 20 to 50 times that of other children in Japan.1 This finding, however, appeared to stem from a systematic thyroid ultrasonographic screening program—one that did not extend to the rest of Japan. Other investigators applying the same screening protocol to children in other Japanese regions found that the rate of thyroid cancer detected by screening did not differ meaningfully from that in the Fukushima region.2 In other words, the apparent epidemic was the result of screening, not radiation..

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