If you thought primary thyroid cancer was deadlier than secondary thyroid cancer, think again. It might sound like it, but the latest study shows that the latter can prove much more lethal especially in case of adolescents. Published in a journal by the name CANCER, the study reports that adolescents and young adults with secondary thyroid cancer have 6 times more chances of death than those who suffer from primary thyroid cancer. What makes this even remotely possible and what measures must be taken to avoid such occurrences?
The researchers conducting the study found 3.3% of patients out of more than 41,000 thyroid cancer patients that continued to develop thyroid cancer even post- treatment. From among this population, 6.6% more primary thyroid cancer patients survived compared to those struck with secondary. These were records maintained by American College of Surgeons National Cancer Database that spanned 1998-2010.
It must be noted that tumors spread to various parts of the body in case of cancer. Usually, the primary cancer gets so much attention during treatment that the secondary cancer that develops is not taken too seriously until later. Plus, by the time treatment of the secondary cancer begins the patient is already too weak and adversely affected by the primary cancer sickness. In case of the secondary cancer developing in thyroid, patients have all the more reason to panic.
Despite the fact that there are fairly high chances of survival in case of both cancer types, the study is useful in that it suggests time-efficient identification and treatment of secondary thyroid cancer. As part of the study, Dr. Melanie Goldfarb is hopeful about the prospects of the published research: “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.”
Dr. Golfarb is also determined to increase the scope of treatment: “The need to screen all patients with a cancer history might be more appropriate, and is the premise of another study I am working on.”