Different Hospitals Provide Different Treatments for Thyroid Cancer

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According to a latest study by the University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center, the treatment of thyroid cancer differs from one hospital to another and the hospital that a patient chooses can make a lot of difference in the cancer treatment. The study has found that there are several “unexplained factors” that depend on the hospital providing treatment. The influence of hospitals is found in the use of the crucial radioactive iodine. The major factors that are taken into consideration for the treatment of cancer, as of now, are size, intensity and magnitude of the tumor.

The author of the study, Megan Haymart, M.D., and assistant professor in internal medicine in the University of Michigan medical school said that where a patient goes for treatment has now become the major factor in overcoming the problem rather than the size of the tumor and how the tumor appears. She said that the difference in the usage of radioactive iodine causes a lot of difference in the results of the treatment. The disparity from one hospital to another is due to lack of standards for treatments, especially use of radioactive iodine. Journal of American Medical Association is slated to feature the article on the 17th august issue.

Of the many cancers that strike people in the United States, thyroid cancer figures among the top ten most deadly and rampant. Further, researchers have also said that the frequency of thyroid cancer is on the rise and is striking more people every year. Surgery is performed to remove the affected thyroid gland as a part of treatment and the patient is exposed to radioactive iodine. Its use is higher in cases where the cancer reaches more severe levels. For patient with relatively low intensity of cancer, radioactive iodine treatment is not required. Doctors have been debating about the use of radioactive iodine in early stages of cancer since unnecessary exposure can cause side effects.

The study considers 189,219 thyroid cancer cases and it was found that while the intensity, size and magnitude of cancer did have a major role to play in the treatment procedure, a major percentage (29%) of treatment results depended on various unexplained hospital factors. Despite rules and guidelines that outline the use of radioactive iodine, hospitals still register variation in treatment. The reason is being attributed to a lack of proper knowledge and awareness among doctors regarding the use of radioactive iodine. Megan Haymart said that more studies have to be carried out and more stringent guidelines have to be set in order to standardize the usage. Indiscriminate usage can cause damage to healthy tissues such as salivary glands.