Cancer Overdiagnosis Awareness is needed because a lot of cancers diagnosed by screening tests will never kill you.
That’s when doctors diagnose a disease that won’t cause the death of a patient during the patient’s lifetime.
Overdiagnosis is something physicians are increasingly concerned about.
The number of people diagnosed with thyroid cancer has more than tripled since 1975, yet the number of people dying of it hasn’t changed at all. How is this possible? The simple answer is many healthy people have small harmless cancers within their thyroids that we have gotten very good at spotting with newer high-resolution imaging technology. And since we practice better-safe-than-sorry medicine, we treat them all.
Healthy people’s thyroids contained these small symptomless cancers.
The American Thyroid Association has recently published guidelines against overdiagnosing and overtreating small, symptomless cancers.
Be alert and refuse any routine or screening ultrasound without a clinical indication. Refuse a thyroid biopsy if a small nodule is found until a second opinion determines the nodule has risk factors for cancer. These can be followed instead of a biopsy. If you are told it is a cancer refuse surgery until a second opinion determines if it is a look alike benign adenoma that looks like follicular variant of papillary thyroid cancer called NIFT-P. Finally if it is a classic papillary cancer and is <1.3 cm refuse surgery until it is determined to be in a safe place that can be followed instead of operation. This is called ACTIVE Surveillance. You will be in a registry for 50 years and and only in the rare case the cancer grows 3 mm you will have a rescue surgery without any negative effects of the delay.
Finally if the microcancer is near the capsule or a vital structure or if there are positive lymph nodes after a neck ultrasound then you are in need of surgery.
Call Matthew at 310-393-8860 for details about any of these options and obtain a consultation BEFORE doing anything.