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Thyroid Cancer Incidence on Rise Since Late 1980s

Increase across tumor sizes suggests that closer diagnostic scrutiny is not the only explanation

TUESDAY, July 14 (HealthDay News) -- The incidence of differentiated thyroid cancer increased in recent decades, with patterns indicating the rise was not merely due to increased detection, according to research published online July 13 in Cancer.

Amy Y. Chen, M.D., of Emory University in Atlanta, and colleagues analyzed data from the Surveillance Epidemiology and End Results (SEER) cancer registry on cases of differentiated thyroid cancer diagnosed between 1988 and 2005.

For all sizes of tumors, the researchers found that incidence rates increased. The highest rate of increase was for primary tumors under 1 centimeter in size in men and women, however, tumors of 4 centimeters or greater also showed significant increases in men and women. The authors further note that distant SEER stage disease also increased significantly in both sexes.

"In conclusion, the incidence of thyroid cancer has been increasing," Chen and colleagues write. "In partial contrast to previously published reports, in our study, we observed that the increasing incidence of thyroid cancer is not only the product of greater detection of smaller tumors. Instead, the detection of all sizes of well differentiated thyroid cancers increased from 1988 to 2005. Despite better detection of these cancers, survival rates have not improved, suggesting the need for further exploration into the etiologies of increasing thyroid cancer rates."

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