Rapid Review Quiz: Cancer Overdiagnosis

Elwyn C. Cabebe, MD


April 08, 2022

A recent observational analysis examined thyroid cancer burden trends among the European Union 15+ nations (15 pre-2004 European Union countries, the United States, Australia, Canada, and Norway), which have roughly comparable data availability and health infrastructure. Despite some variability across all disease burden parameters that was country-specific, researchers identified overall increases in thyroid cancer incidence over the past three decades and simultaneous improvements in thyroid cancer mortality. These findings are consistent with previous research on overdiagnosis of thyroid cancer related to improvements in diagnostic techniques, such as CT scanning, ultrasonography, and histopathologic testing.

Researchers caution that overdiagnosis alone is unlikely to account entirely for incidence trends, and that the advanced papillary thyroid cancer mortality rate also increased more rapidly compared with all thyroid cancers. The researchers attributed this increase to environmental risk factors for thyroid cancer associated with a Western lifestyle, such as food fertilized with nitrates, obesity, and smoking.

Learn more about thyroid cancer.


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