The last four decades have witnessed an explosion of thyroid cancer diagnoses in the U.S. People are three times more likely to receive cancer diagnoses now than they were in 1975.
Why? Is it chemicals in the water supply? A side effect of all those childhood vaccines? Or is it because a TV ad convinced people to ask their doctors to check their neck?
I have examined thousands of patients’ necks in my career. I ask them to drink water while I feel the contours of their thyroid for suspicious asymmetries. If I feel anything suspicious, like a lump, I follow up with blood tests and ultrasound exams, to see if my patient is harboring a potentially dangerous growth. Here’s the problem with all that neck checking—there’s no evidence it saves lives. But there is solid evidence that it leads to diagnoses of non-threatening thyroid cancers.
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