Sep 26, 2016, 1:32 am

Bengaluru: In a worrying trend, city doctors are seeing an increasing number of thyroid cancer cases. While the exact cause of thyroid cancer remains unknown, the common symptoms include a lump or thyroid nodule in the neck, trouble with swallowing, throat or neck pain, swollen lymph nodes in the neck, persistent cough and vocal changes. This type of cancer is  more common in women than in men as about three women are diagnosed for every man. While it can occur at any stage of adult life, the good news is the cure rate for thyroid cancer is around 97-98 per cent if treated timely.

“Currently there is a steep increase in diagnosis of thyroid disease owing to better access to healthcare, routine screening and better radiology with ultrasound. This has possibly led to over diagnosis as well and perhaps an increase in the incidence of thyroid cancers world over as confirmed by various countries including the US. So, we need to exert caution when screening for thyroid,” says Dr Vishal Rao, Head and Neck Surgeon, Department of Surgical Oncology, HCG.

Mian  nuclear medicine, HCG, says that the main challenge is  lack of awareness. “There is a lot of negligence by  patients . People living in rural areas are less aware than those in cities,” he adds.

In addition there is shortage of cytopathologists and diagnostic labs in rural areas, points out“They play a critical role in the diagnosis of the disease at primary healthcare centres,” he explains.

Growing concern
Thyroid cancer is the most common cancer of the endocrine system and occurs in all age groups, including children. The primary management for most patients with thyroid cancer is surgical removal of the entire thyroid gland. Following surgery, the patients are required to undergo radioactive iodine scans.

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The US is expected to have the highest number of thyroid cases by 2020 in the world, closely followed by India at the third position. The number of trained surgeons and cytopathologist entering the work force will probably not meet the demand.