The Rising Incidence of Thyroid Cancer in California

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.

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:

  1. Alpine, Amador, and Calaveras (combined)
  2. Imperial
  3. Sutter
  4. San Francisco
  5. Santa Barbara

 

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.

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.

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.

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.

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About The Author

Dr. Jolene Brighten

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Dr. Jolene Brighten is a licensed Functional Medicine Naturopathic Doctor, best selling author, speaker, and mother. Dr. Brighten specializes in women’s health, from fertility to postpartum care, adrenal and thyroid support, autoimmune conditions, and digestive disorders. In her patient centered practice, Dr. Brighten thrives on navigating the space between conventional and alternative medicine, all while working with patients to help them achieve optimum balance, health, and happiness.