Are Thyroid Cancer Screenings Putting Patients at Risk of Misdiagnosis?

woman upset talking to doctor

Could thyroid cancer screenings be doing more harm than good? NPR reported on a story involving the results of a US Preventative Services Task Force investigation that concluded just that. According to the NPR report, none of the major medical organizations recommend thyroid cancer screenings. In addition, in a US Preventative Services Task Force report published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, they recommended people do not undergo thyroid cancer screenings.

How Can a Thyroid Cancer Screening Harm Patients?

Unless a person is showing symptoms of thyroid cancer, the US Preventative Services Task Force recommends against thyroid cancer screenings. Although it would seem like undergoing any type of cancer screening would be a good thing, it is not always the case with screenings for thyroid cancer. The reason is that the thyroid cancer screening process generally detects cancers that would not grow into life-threatening tumors.

However, once a growth is found, life-threatening or not, surgeons will often remove the patient’s thyroid gland, which is a surgery that has major side effects. During the thyroid removal surgery, surgeons can end up severing nerves that enable the patient to control speech and swallowing. In addition, surgeons could mistakenly remove the parathyroid gland. Plus, following the surgery, patients will have to take thyroid hormones for the rest of their life.

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