Rate of thyroid cancer increasing

56K cases per year from 18K per year in 2002


HOLLYWOOD, Fla. – During a routine physical in 2010, Laura Kelly's primary care physician saw something odd on an ultrasound of her neck.

"He thought it was very suspicious because it had calcifications and it had blood flow and I didn't know but apparently these are characteristics of a cancerous nodule," said Kelly, who was diagnosed with thyroid cancer.

Since 2000, the rate of thyroid cancer in the U.S. has jumped from 18,000 cases a year to 56,000 cases a year.

While some say better diagnosis is the reason, Memorial Regional Hospital endocrinologist Dr. Mack Harrell isn't so sure.

"If it was all just small cancers, the early diagnosis would hold, but we're still seeing the big, ugly stuff that we would hope to catch earlier," he said.

The risk of thyroid cancer crosses all age groups but predominates in women.

"The men get a worse version, but women get it a lot more and why, we're not sure," said Harrell.

You can test themselves at home by looking in the mirror as you drink a glass of water. If you see a lump moving beneath your Adam's apple, you should see a doctor.