Thyroid cancer may be over diagnosed and over treated and many patients may have been exposed to unnecessary treatment and dangerous procedures according to a new study lead by Juan Pablo Brito, M.B.B.S. an endocrine fellow and health care delivery scholar at Mayo Clinic, Minnesota and published in BMJ.
New technologies such as MRI and CT scans and ultrasound, allowing the detection of very small and slow cancerous thyroid nodules contributed to triple the number of thyroid cancers detected in the past 30 years. However the number of deaths stayed the same.
According to the study this gap suggests that low risk cancers may be over treated and that patients may be subjected to unnecessary, expensive and risky procedures such as thyroidectomy (complete or partial removal of the thyroid) or dangerous treatments using radioactive iodine.
The study recommends that for low risk types of thyroid cancer, doctors discuss with their patients and let them choose between active surveillance and immediate intensive and expensive treatment.