Secondary thyroid cancer more deadly than primary malignancy in young individuals

February 24, 2014

A new analysis has found that adolescents and young adults who develop thyroid cancer as a secondary cancer have a significantly greater risk of dying than those with primary thyroid cancer. Published early online in Cancer, a peer-reviewed journal of the American Cancer Society, the findings stress the importance of screening young cancer survivors to detect early signs of a potentially life-threatening thyroid malignancy.

Thyroid cancer is one of the five most common malignancies in adolescent and young adult patients (ages 15 to 39 years). It can develop as an initial cancer or rarely after treatment for a previous cancer. Melanie Goldfarb, MD, and David Freyer, DO, of the Keck School of Medicine of the University of Southern California and Children's Hospital Los Angeles, designed a study to compare the tumor characteristics, treatment, and survival of such primary versus secondary thyroid cancers in adolescent and young adult patients.

Their analysis included all adolescent and young adult thyroid cancer cases documented in the 1998-2010 American College of Surgeons National Cancer Database. Of 41,062 cases, 1349 (3.3 percent) had experienced a prior malignancy. Compared with cases of primary thyroid cancer, cases of secondary thyroid cancer were more likely to be small but to occur in more than one location. Also, patients with secondary thyroid cancer were more than 6.6-times as likely to die than patients with primary cancer, though survival with treatment is excellent for both at greater than 95%. This study suggests that there may be differences between thyroid cancers seen with or without a prior malignancy.

"This study will hopefully spur future research that will investigate if there are any causes—biologic, environmental, prior treatment-related, or access to care disparities—to account for the survival differences in these secondary cancers," said Dr. Goldfarb.

The authors consider whether the current screening guidelines for survivors of childhood cancer would detect these smaller cancers. Dr. Freyer noted that the results may have implications for screening in young .

Related Stories

Nexavar approval expanded for common thyroid cancer

November 24, 2013

(HealthDay)—U.S. Food and Drug Administration approval for the anti-cancer drug Nexavar (sorafenib) has been expanded to include late-stage differentiated thyroid cancer, the most common type of thyroid cancer.

Thyroid cancer cases soar; is it overdiagnosed?

February 22, 2014

A dramatic rise in thyroid cancer has resulted from overdiagnosis and treatment of tumors too small to ever cause harm, according to a study that found cases nearly tripled since 1975.

Recommended for you

Study reveals new insight into DNA repair

August 3, 2015

DNA double-strand breaks (DSBs) are the worst possible form of genetic malfunction that can cause cancer and resistance to therapy. New information published this week reveals more about why this occurs and how these breaks ...

Strange circular DNA may offer new way to detect cancers

July 30, 2015

Strange rings of DNA that exist outside chromosomes are distinct to the cell types that mistakenly produced them, researchers have discovered. The finding raises the tantalizing possibility that the rings could be used as ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.