ROCHESTER, Minn. — Low-risk cancers that do not have any symptoms and presumably will not cause problems in the future are responsible for the rapid increase in the number of new cases of thyroid cancer diagnosed over the past decade, according to a Mayo Clinic study published in the journal Thyroid. According to the study authors, nearly one-third of these recent cases were diagnosed when clinicians used high-tech imaging even when no symptoms of thyroid disease were present.
“We are spotting more cancers, but they are cancers that are not likely to cause harm,” says the study's lead author, Juan Brito Campana, M.B.B.S., an assistant professor of medicine at Mayo Clinic. “Their treatment, however, is likely to cause harm, as most thyroid cancers are treated by surgically removing all or part of the thyroid gland. This is a risky procedure that can damage a patient’s vocal cords or leave them with lifelong calcium deficiencies.”
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