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      Worldwide Increasing Incidence of Thyroid Cancer: Update on Epidemiology and Risk Factors


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          Background. In the last decades, thyroid cancer incidence has continuously and sharply increased all over the world. This review analyzes the possible reasons of this increase. Summary. Many experts believe that the increased incidence of thyroid cancer is apparent, because of the increased detection of small cancers in the preclinical stage. However, a true increase is also possible, as suggested by the observation that large tumors have also increased and gender differences and birth cohort effects are present. Moreover, thyroid cancer mortality, in spite of earlier diagnosis and better treatment, has not decreased but is rather increasing. Therefore, some environmental carcinogens in the industrialized lifestyle may have specifically affected the thyroid. Among potential carcinogens, the increased exposure to medical radiations is the most likely risk factor. Other factors specific for the thyroid like increased iodine intake and increased prevalence of chronic autoimmune thyroiditis cannot be excluded, while other factors like the increasing prevalence of obesity are not specific for the thyroid. Conclusions. The increased incidence of thyroid cancer is most likely due to a combination of an apparent increase due to more sensitive diagnostic procedures and of a true increase, a possible consequence of increased population exposure to radiation and to other still unrecognized carcinogens.

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          Most cited references 89

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          Radiation exposure from CT scans in childhood and subsequent risk of leukaemia and brain tumours: a retrospective cohort study

          Summary Background Although CT scans are very useful clinically, potential cancer risks exist from associated ionising radiation, in particular for children who are more radiosensitive than adults. We aimed to assess the excess risk of leukaemia and brain tumours after CT scans in a cohort of children and young adults. Methods In our retrospective cohort study, we included patients without previous cancer diagnoses who were first examined with CT in National Health Service (NHS) centres in England, Wales, or Scotland (Great Britain) between 1985 and 2002, when they were younger than 22 years of age. We obtained data for cancer incidence, mortality, and loss to follow-up from the NHS Central Registry from Jan 1, 1985, to Dec 31, 2008. We estimated absorbed brain and red bone marrow doses per CT scan in mGy and assessed excess incidence of leukaemia and brain tumours cancer with Poisson relative risk models. To avoid inclusion of CT scans related to cancer diagnosis, follow-up for leukaemia began 2 years after the first CT and for brain tumours 5 years after the first CT. Findings During follow-up, 74 of 178 604 patients were diagnosed with leukaemia and 135 of 176 587 patients were diagnosed with brain tumours. We noted a positive association between radiation dose from CT scans and leukaemia (excess relative risk [ERR] per mGy 0·036, 95% CI 0·005–0·120; p=0·0097) and brain tumours (0·023, 0·010–0·049; p<0·0001). Compared with patients who received a dose of less than 5 mGy, the relative risk of leukaemia for patients who received a cumulative dose of at least 30 mGy (mean dose 51·13 mGy) was 3·18 (95% CI 1·46–6·94) and the relative risk of brain cancer for patients who received a cumulative dose of 50–74 mGy (mean dose 60·42 mGy) was 2·82 (1·33–6·03). Interpretation Use of CT scans in children to deliver cumulative doses of about 50 mGy might almost triple the risk of leukaemia and doses of about 60 mGy might triple the risk of brain cancer. Because these cancers are relatively rare, the cumulative absolute risks are small: in the 10 years after the first scan for patients younger than 10 years, one excess case of leukaemia and one excess case of brain tumour per 10 000 head CT scans is estimated to occur. Nevertheless, although clinical benefits should outweigh the small absolute risks, radiation doses from CT scans ought to be kept as low as possible and alternative procedures, which do not involve ionising radiation, should be considered if appropriate. Funding US National Cancer Institute and UK Department of Health.
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            Increasing incidence of differentiated thyroid cancer in the United States, 1988-2005.

            Studies have reported an increasing incidence of thyroid cancer since 1980. One possible explanation for this trend is increased detection through more widespread and aggressive use of ultrasound and image-guided biopsy. Increases resulting from increased detection are most likely to involve small primary tumors rather than larger tumors, which often present as palpable thyroid masses. The objective of the current study was to investigate the trends in increasing incidence of differentiated (papillary and follicular) thyroid cancer by size, age, race, and sex. Cases of differentiated thyroid cancer (1988-2005) were analyzed using the National Cancer Institute's Surveillance Epidemiology and End Results (SEER) dataset. Trends in incidence rates of papillary and follicular cancer, race, age, sex, primary tumor size ( 4 cm), and SEER stage (localized, regional, distant) were analyzed using joinpoint regression and reported as the annual percentage change (APC). Incidence rates increased for all sizes of tumors. Among men and women of all ages, the highest rate of increase was for primary tumors or =4 cm among men (1988-2005: APC, 3.7) and women (1988-2005: APC, 5.70) and for distant SEER stage disease among men (APC, 3.7) and women (APC, 2.3). The incidence rates of differentiated thyroid cancers of all sizes increased between 1988 and 2005 in both men and women. The increased incidence across all tumor sizes suggested that increased diagnostic scrutiny is not the sole explanation. Other explanations, including environmental influences and molecular pathways, should be investigated.
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              International patterns and trends in thyroid cancer incidence, 1973-2002.

              During the past several decades, an increasing incidence of thyroid cancer has been reported in many parts of the world. To date, no study has compared the trends in thyroid cancer incidence across continents. We examined incidence data from cancer incidence in five continents (CI5) over the 30-year period 1973-2002 from 19 populations in the Americas, Asia, Europe, and Oceania. Thyroid cancer rates have increased from 1973-1977 to 1998-2002 for most of the populations except Sweden, in which the incidence rates decreased about 18% for both males and females. The average increase was 48.0% among males and 66.7% among females. More recently, the age-adjusted international thyroid cancer incidence rates from 1998 to 2002 varied 5-fold for males and nearly 10-fold for females by geographic region. Considerable variation in thyroid cancer incidence was present for every continent but Africa, in which the incidence rates were generally low. Our analysis of published CI5 data suggests that thyroid cancer rates increased between 1973 and 2002 in most populations worldwide, and that the increase does not appear to be restricted to a particular region of the world or by the underlying rates of thyroid cancer.

                Author and article information

                J Cancer Epidemiol
                J Cancer Epidemiol
                Journal of Cancer Epidemiology
                Hindawi Publishing Corporation
                7 May 2013
                : 2013
                1Endocrinology, Garibaldi-Nesima Hospital, Via Palermo, 636, 95122 Catania, Italy
                2Endocrinology, Department of Clinical and Molecular Biomedicine, University of Catania, Garibaldi-Nesima Hospital, Via Palermo 636, 95122 Catania, Italy
                3Endocrinology, Garibaldi-Nesima Hospital, and Humanitas, Catania Cancer Center, Catania, Italy
                Author notes
                *Gabriella Pellegriti: g.pellegriti@ 123456unict.it

                Academic Editor: Thomas E. Rohan

                Copyright © 2013 Gabriella Pellegriti et al.

                This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

                Review Article

                Oncology & Radiotherapy


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