The Rising Incidence of Thyroid Cancer in California

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:

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

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About The Author


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Dr. Jolene Brighten is a Functional Medicine Naturopathic Medical Doctor and the founder of Rubus Health, a women’s medicine clinic that specializes in women's hormones. She is recognized as a leading expert in Post-Birth Control Syndrome and the long-term side effects associated with hormonal contraceptives. Dr. Brighten is the best selling author, speaker and regular contributor to several online publications including MindBodyGreen. She is a medical advisor for one of the first data-driven apps to offer women personalized birth control recommendations.Read more about me.