An increasing gap between the incidence of thyroid cancer and deaths from the disease suggests that low-risk cancers are being overdiagnosed and overtreated. The study from the Mayo Clinic Center for the Science of Health Care Delivery is in the current issue of the BMJ.
Lead author Juan Brito, M.B.B.S., an endocrine fellow and health care delivery scholar at Mayo Clinic, says, “High-tech imaging technologies such as ultrasound, CT and MRI can detect very small thyroid nodules many of which are slow growing papillary thyroid cancers. This is exposing patients to unnecessary and harmful treatments that are inconsistent with their prognosis.” Dr. Brito says the surgical removal of all or part of the thyroid gland is a costly procedure and includes a risk of complications such as low calcium levels and nerve injury. Surgical removal procedures in the United States have tripled in the past 30 years — from 3.6 per 100,000 people in 1973 to 11.6 per 100,000 people in 2009.
Journalists: B-roll and sound bites with Dr. Brito in English and Spanish are in in the downloads