The number of people with papillary thyroid cancer has tripled in the last thirty years. Papillary thyroid cancer, which exhibits a mass in the thyroid gland, is the number one type of thyroid cancer in the U.S.
Research out of Dartmouth Medical School indicates a couple of possible bright spots in this dark scenario. The high numbers may not actually be because of an increase in papillary thyroid cancer. Instead, they may be the result of more testing and biopsies being performed. So, people may not be getting this cancer more often, but rather it is being discovered more often.
That's not much consolation for the people who have papillary thyroid cancer, of course. But this news just might be. Apparently, people with papillary thyroid cancer of any size don't tend to die of it, even with no treatment at all.
Dr. Louise Davies of Dartmouth Medical School and Dr. Gilbert Welch of the Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy and Clinical Practice gathered data on this and here is their conclusion. "Bottom line: almost everyone diagnosed with papillary thyroid cancer of any size confined to the thyroid survived whether they had treatment or not."