A new analysis published online in CANCER showed an interesting finding for adolescents and young adults who develop thyroid cancer as a secondary cancer. They found these patients have a higher risk of dying than those with primary thyroid cancer. This study stresses the importance of screening young cancer survivors for this disease.
In the face of many articles discussing how thyroid cancer is over-diagnosed, this information does come as a bit of a surprise. Thyroid is one of the five most common malignancies in adolescent and young adult patients (ages 15 to 39 years of age). Generally, when it is found as a primary cancer, it poses a very favorable prognosis.
This study found that while the cases of secondary thyroid cancer were more likely to be small and in only one location, the patients were 6.6 times as likely to die than patients with primary thyroid cancer, though survival with both groups is excellent at greater than 95%. The study suggest that thyroid cancers developing after a prior malignancy may be different.
While great controversy remains in detecting smaller and smaller thyroid nodules and their further workup with fine needle aspiration biopsies, this study may create further screening in this young group.