USPSTF Still Recommending Against Routine Thyroid Cancer Screening

HealthDay News — Clinicians should not screen for thyroid cancer in patients who have no symptoms of the disease, according to a U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) draft recommendation which reaffirms a recommendation issued 20 years ago.

“While there is very little evidence of the benefits of screening for thyroid cancer, there is considerable evidence of the significant harms of treatment,” Task Force member Karina Davidson, PhD, director of the Center for Behavioral Cardiovascular Health at Columbia University Medical Center in New York City, said in a USPSTF news release. “And in the places where universal screening has been tried, it hasn’t helped people live longer, healthier lives.”

Studies from several countries suggest widespread thyroid cancer screening leads to overdiagnosis, Task Force chairwoman Kirsten Bibbins-Domingo, MD, PhD, a professor of medicine, epidemiology, and biostatistics at the University of California, San Francisco, said in the news release. “People who are treated for small or slow-growing tumors are exposed to risks from surgery or radiation, but do not receive any benefit because the tumors are unlikely to affect the person’s health during their lifetime,” she added.

The Task Force is accepting public comments on the draft recommendation through December 26, 2016.

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  1. USPSTF. Draft Evidence Review for Thyroid Cancer: Screening. USPSTF website. November 216.