According to the National Cancer Institute, the incidence of thyroid cancer in the US surpassed 500,000 cases in 2010, with 60,000 new cases emerging every year, accounting for 3.6% of all new cancer diagnoses. Despite the increasing incidence, thyroid cancer remains highly curable, with the number of deaths at 1 in 200,000 Americans.
Because the thyroid is palpable, nodules are fairly obvious and often self-detected, leading to a relatively early detection. Thyroid tumors are more commonly self-contained, or in situ, meaning that their early and complete removal is key to avoiding metastases (spreading to other areas).
If the thyroid carcinoma is deemed aggressive and is not self-contained, surgical intervention may be recommended to remove the cancerous growth, or occasionally, the entire thyroid gland. In cases where the entire thyroid gland is removed, the physician may use thyroglobulin as a tumor marker to serve as evidence for cancer recurrence in a metastatic tumor.