Thursday, January 12, 2012

Numbers in the wrong direction

This is clearly a number going in the wrong direction. 2011 - 48,020 cases and 2012 - 56,460 expected cases. This is the number of cases of thyroid cancer in the US. When I was diagnosed there were around 10,000 cases a year. I thought the number was up to 35,000 or so. But how did it get to 56,460?

Thyroid cancer used to be a relatively rare cancer and that is no longer the case. These numbers make it more common than oral cancers, all leukemias, and pancreatic. Yes it is a relatively curable cancer but still it is cancer and its diagnosis represents the beginning of a life time of watching.
This visual gives a better idea of the rate of increase and is from the National Cancer Institute. That is a bad cancer chart with its increase. There are lots of discussions on why this cancer is increasing in prevalence - increased detection, radiation exposure, cell phones, dental x-rays, blah, blah, blah. But they don't really know.  To put it in perspective, thyroid cancer is diagnosed at the rate of 1/4 of that of breast cancer or lung cancer.

Once you have a thyroid cancer diagnosis, it means you no longer have a thyroid. And that little tiny gland is very important in maintaining your body. You have to constantly have your thyroid levels checked and some people are never able to get balanced on their synthetic thyroid hormone.

I think thyroid cancer has not had a lot of focus because it wasn't very prevalent and has relatively low mortality rates. Perhaps that needs to change to focus on slowing the incidence and what can be done to reduce it.


Anonymous said...

My mother had a rare cancer-multiple myeloma- and the incidence had DOUBLED in the USA in just 15 years. What is going on? The numbers are in the wrong direction, indeed. Robin

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