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Thyroid Cancer Rates on the Rise


Narrator: This is Science Today. While cancer rates in the United States are declining overall, some cancers are on the rise, including thyroid cancer. Dr. Orlo Clark, professor of surgery at the University of California, San Francisco says thyroid cancer rates are climbing the fastest and that may be partially due to better detection.

Clark: Some of it, it's a founder effect. In other words, people are having ultrasounds for many reasons; people are having PET scans for follow-up for breast cancer - so they're searching for metastatic disease and they find something in the thyroid.

Narrator: Clark was one of the first surgeons to advocate total removal of the thyroid in most cases of thyroid cancer by showing that side effects of the surgery could be reduced and also cut down the chances of recurrence. Clark and his colleagues are now leading efforts to identify molecular markers in biopsy tissue to distinguish between aggressive cancer and that which only requires monitoring.

Clark: So, I think the modern era is - how can one figure out which one is going to be the aggressive tumor? So, hopefully the molecular biology understanding that will identify improved selection of patients, like needle biopsy has in the past.

Narrator: For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.