Some experts have dismissed the trend, suggesting that it's simply the result of better detection through increased use of sensitive ultrasound. Others believe that the incidence of thyroid cancer is truly on the increase. All in all, however, the alarming trend has been overlooked.
Which is why it's interesting news that American University's (AU) Investigative Reporting Workshop has put together a set of stories, several video interviews, and a fact sheet that looks at the mystery of the increase in thyroid cancer.
Stetler's research looked at a study, published in the March 2009 issue of the journal Cancer Epidemiology and Biomarkers and Prevention, which found that from 1980 to 2005, the number of thyroid tumors bigger than 2 centimeters increased. This led the study's researchers to conclude that "medical surveillance and more sensitive diagnostic procedures cannot completely explain the observed increases in papillary thyroid cancer rates."
According to Stetler: "There is now proof the increasing rate is not just a reflection of improved detection. But researchers say they really don't know what is causing the increase."
In one of the articles in her series, Stetler reviews some of the theories about what is causing the increase in thyroid cancer, including:
- Nuclear fallout exposure
- Heredity and the role of genes
- Benign / autoimmune thyroid disease
- Increased exposure to CT-scans
- Environmental pollutants, including perchlorate, polychlorinated biphenyls and dioxins
- Iodine deficiency
Since we know that elevated TSH levels can be a contributing factor to thyroid cancer risk, one has to wonder whether another overlooked risk factor is the medical community's inability to agree on a normal reference range for the TSH test -- as well as the overall ignorance on the part of many doctors as to the need to treat subclinical hypothyroidism.
More Information About Thyroid Cancer
- Thyroid Cancer Risk Factors
- Thyroid Cancer Symptoms: A Look at the Signs and Symptoms of Thyroid Carcinoma
- Thyroid Cancer Diagnosis: A Look at the Procedures and Tests for Diagnosing Thyroid Carcinoma
- Thyroid Cancer Facts, and How to Do a Thyroid Neck Check
- Why Are More People Being Diagnosed with Thyroid Cancer?