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Overdiagnosis and overtreatment of thyroid cancer: A population-based temporal trend study


Jegerlehner, Sabrina; Bulliard, Jean-Luc; Aujesky, Drahomir; Rodondi, Nicolas; Germann, Simon; Konzelmann, Isabelle; Chiolero, Arnaud (2017). Overdiagnosis and overtreatment of thyroid cancer: A population-based temporal trend study. PLoS ONE, 12(6):e0179387.

Abstract

BACKGROUND The increase in incidence of thyroid cancer during the last decades without concomitant rise in mortality may reflect the growing detection of indolent forms of thyroid cancer, and may have fueled unnecessary thyroidectomies. Our aim was therefore, to compare recent secular trends in surgical intervention rate for thyroid cancer with the incidence and mortality of thyroid cancer to assess overdiagnosis and resulting overtreatment. METHODS We conducted a population-based temporal trend study in Switzerland from 1998 to 2012. All cases of invasive thyroid cancer, deaths from thyroid cancer, and cancer-related thyroidectomies were analyzed. We calculated changes in age-standardized thyroid cancer incidence rates, stratified by histologic subtype and tumor stage, thyroid cancer-specific mortality, and thyroidectomy rates. RESULTS Between 1998 and 2012, the age-standardized annual incidence of thyroid cancer increased from 5.9 to 11.7 cases/100,000 among women (annual mean absolute increase: +0.43/100,000/year) and from 2.7 to 3.9 cases/100,000 among men (+0.11/100,000/year). The increase was limited to the papillary subtype, the most indolent form of thyroid cancer. The incidence of early stages increased sharply, the incidence of advanced stages increased marginally, and the mortality from thyroid cancer decreased slightly. There was a three- to four-fold increase in the age-standardized annual thyroidectomy rate in both sexes. CONCLUSIONS We observed a large increase in the incidence of thyroid cancer, limited to papillary and early stage tumors, with a three- to four-fold parallel increase in thyroidectomy. The mortality slightly decreased. These findings suggest that a substantial and growing part of the detected thyroid cancers are overdiagnosed and overtreated. IMPACT Targeted screening and diagnostic strategies are warranted to avoid overdetection and unnecessary treatment of thyroid cancers.

Abstract

BACKGROUND The increase in incidence of thyroid cancer during the last decades without concomitant rise in mortality may reflect the growing detection of indolent forms of thyroid cancer, and may have fueled unnecessary thyroidectomies. Our aim was therefore, to compare recent secular trends in surgical intervention rate for thyroid cancer with the incidence and mortality of thyroid cancer to assess overdiagnosis and resulting overtreatment. METHODS We conducted a population-based temporal trend study in Switzerland from 1998 to 2012. All cases of invasive thyroid cancer, deaths from thyroid cancer, and cancer-related thyroidectomies were analyzed. We calculated changes in age-standardized thyroid cancer incidence rates, stratified by histologic subtype and tumor stage, thyroid cancer-specific mortality, and thyroidectomy rates. RESULTS Between 1998 and 2012, the age-standardized annual incidence of thyroid cancer increased from 5.9 to 11.7 cases/100,000 among women (annual mean absolute increase: +0.43/100,000/year) and from 2.7 to 3.9 cases/100,000 among men (+0.11/100,000/year). The increase was limited to the papillary subtype, the most indolent form of thyroid cancer. The incidence of early stages increased sharply, the incidence of advanced stages increased marginally, and the mortality from thyroid cancer decreased slightly. There was a three- to four-fold increase in the age-standardized annual thyroidectomy rate in both sexes. CONCLUSIONS We observed a large increase in the incidence of thyroid cancer, limited to papillary and early stage tumors, with a three- to four-fold parallel increase in thyroidectomy. The mortality slightly decreased. These findings suggest that a substantial and growing part of the detected thyroid cancers are overdiagnosed and overtreated. IMPACT Targeted screening and diagnostic strategies are warranted to avoid overdetection and unnecessary treatment of thyroid cancers.

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Additional indexing

Contributors:NICER Working Group
Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:04 Faculty of Medicine > Epidemiology, Biostatistics and Prevention Institute (EBPI)
Dewey Decimal Classification:610 Medicine & health
Language:English
Date:2017
Deposited On:22 Feb 2018 14:34
Last Modified:14 Mar 2018 17:43
Publisher:Public Library of Science (PLoS)
ISSN:1932-6203
OA Status:Gold
Free access at:PubMed ID. An embargo period may apply.
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0179387
PubMed ID:28614405

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