(HealthDay News) — More than half of thyroid cancers are identified among patients with no symptoms, according to a study published online July 14 in JAMA Otolaryngology-Head & Neck Surgery.

Mirabelle Sajisevi, M.D., from the University of Vermont Medical Center in Burlington, and colleagues conducted a retrospective analysis of pathology and medical records of 1,328 patients who underwent thyroid-directed surgery in 16 centers in four countries (Canada, Denmark, South Africa, and the United States) to examine whether modes of detection (MODs) used to identify thyroid nodules for removal have changed. Participants were the first 100 patients (or largest number available) at each center who underwent thyroid surgery in 2019.

A total of 1,328 participants underwent thyroid surgery and met the inclusion criteria: 34, 41, 14, and 12 percent of the surgeries were for thyroid-related symptoms, thyroid findings discovered without thyroid-referable symptoms, endocrine conditions, and nodules with original MOD unknown, respectively. The researchers found that 46 percent of the patients had cancer. Of these, 30 and 51 percent were symptomatic and had no thyroid-referable symptoms, respectively. The mean size of cancers identified was 3.2 and 2.1 cm in the symptomatic and asymptomatic groups, respectively. The MOD patterns differed significantly among participating countries.


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“Most thyroid cancers continue to be discovered in asymptomatic patients, supporting the hypothesis of ongoing detection of subclinical disease rather than a true increase in disease,” the authors write.

Several authors disclosed financial ties to the pharmaceutical industry.

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