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Thyroid Cancer Screening Is Not Recommended for Children and Adolescents Without Symptoms

An international research team, including CLIC investigator Dr. Joachim Schüz, recently published an article about the global trends of thyroid cancer incidence (new cases) and mortality (deaths) among children aged 0-19 years. The researchers used data from 49 countries on 6 continents. They found that although the thyroid cancer incidence rate has risen sharply over the last 20 years and across the globe, the mortality rate from this disease has remained very low or even declined. This finding is similar to what has been observed for adults, and it indicates that thyroid cancer is likely overdiagnosed in children. Thyroid tumors that do not cause symptoms or death are being detected due to increased thyroid gland screenings and the availability of advanced medical technology. Overdiagnosis of such tumors often leads to unnecessary surgical procedures and treatment, which are associated with harmful health effects and a lower quality of life. Thus, the research team does not recommend thyroid cancer screening in children who are otherwise healthy and without symptoms, which agrees with the existing guideline for adults.

Title: Global patterns and trends in incidence and mortality of thyroid cancer in children and adolescents: a population-based study.

Authors: Vaccarella S, Lortet-Tieulent J, Colombet M, Davies L, Stiller CA, Schüz J, Togawa K, Bray F, Franceshi S, Del Maso L, Steliarova-Foucher E; IICC-3 Contributors.

Published In: Lancet Diabetes Endocrinol. 2021 Mar;9(3):144-152. doi: 10.1016/S2213-8587(20)30401-0. Epub 2021 Jan 19. PMID: 33482107.