The rising incidence of thyroid cancer in California has been of great concern among many physicians. A recent study out of the University of California, Los Angeles has found a higher rate of advanced thyroid cancer in certain parts of California.
The numbers are well above the national average in certain parts of the state, leading researchers to look into possible causes such as farming practices, pesticides, or radiation. There is a lot of research that still needs to be done before any conclusions can be made.
The Rising Incidence of Thyroid Cancer in California
What we do know is, 35% of Californians with thyroid cancer were not diagnosed until the disease had advanced and spread to other parts of the body, compared with 29% of people nationwide. This is especially troublesome considering that many thyroid cancers are relatively easy to treat if caught in its early stages.
According to the UCLA findings, the counties or county groups where the most advanced thyroid cancer cases were found were:
- Alpine, Amador, and Calaveras (combined)
- San Francisco
- Santa Barbara
The Rise of Thyroid Cancer Nationwide
According to a database updated by the National Cancer Institute, there has been a steady rise in thyroid cancer throughout the country over the last three decades, and no one is sure why.
More than 60,000 people are diagnosed with the disease every year, with women between the ages of 40 and 60 being the most affected. However the Institute also shows that the incidence of thyroid cancer has increased across racial, ethnic, and gender lines over the last several decades.
These studies are not only showing an increase in the disease, but also an increase in the mortality associated with it.
Regular Screening with Your Physician
Every cell in the body has a receptor for thyroid hormone. When thyroid health is compromised, every system in your body feels the effects. We must view the body and our health as a whole in order to heal.
It is important to have regular screening physical exams with your doctor and to make an appointment to speak with them if you notice a lump on your neck, difficulty swallowing, changes in your voice, or other suspicious symptoms.
Meet with Your Doctor If You:
Notice a lump on your neck
Have difficulty swallowing
Experience changes in your voice
Or have other suspicious symptoms or are concerned
When to Have an Ultrasound
If nodules are found on your thyroid and are suspicious, an ultrasound should be performed. It is important to note that thyroid nodules are found incidentally in as many as 40% of patients who have a neck ultrasound.
Thyroid Lab Testing
Having complete thyroid panel should also be done in order to completely evaluate your thyroid’s health and function. In some cases of autoimmune hypothyroidism (also known as Hashimoto’s) standard antibody testing will be negative, making an ultrasound an important screening test for some individuals.
In fact, it has been noted that Anti-TPO antibodies are detected in 90% of patients and Anti-thyroglobulin are found in about 60% of patients, leaving a considerable amount of people with autoimmune thyroid undiagnosed.
If you're concerned at all about the health of your thyroid I would encourage you to meet with your primary care physician to discuss your risk and thyroid health.