Thyroid tumors in Alaska natives are larger and more advanced at diagnosis
A new study spanning 45 years has shown that while Alaska Natives have a similar incidence of thyroid cancer as the U.S. white population, their tumors at the time of diagnosis tend to be larger and to have spread beyond a localized area. The data, culled from the National Cancer Institute's Alaska Native Tumor Registry, are described in an article published in Thyroid.
The article entitled "Occurrence of Endocrine and Thyroid Cancers among Alaska Native People, 1969-2013 " was coauthored by Sarah Nash, PhD MPH, Anne Lanier, MD, MPH, Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium, Anchorage and Molly Southworth, MD, MPH, Alaska Native Medical Center, Anchorage. The researchers searched the registry to identify cases of endocrine cancer diagnosed over a 45-year period, focusing their comparison specifically on thyroid cancers, more than 85% of which were papillary tumors.
"This is the first detailed examination of thyroid cancer in the Alaska Native population. Although further research is needed, the findings suggest that differences in access to healthcare may have contributed to the observed discrepancies with the white U.S. population," says Peter A. Kopp, MD, Editor-in-Chief of Thyroid and Professor of Medicine, Division of Endocrinology, Metabolism, and Molecular Medicine, Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, Chicago, IL. "The similarity in outcomes suggests that the increase in the detection of small, typically indolent thyroid cancers observed nationally may be a result of improved detection methods, a phenomenon described as 'over-diagnosis' by some authors."