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Study Finds Thyroid Cancer Diagnosis May Not Always Lead to Death

iStock/Thinkstock(HANOVER, N.H.) -- The numbers of patients diagnosed with thyroid cancer have skyrocketed over the past three decades, with the rates nearly tripled since 1975. But could there be more to these numbers than meets the eye?     

Dartmouth researchers looked at more than 30 years worth of thyroid cancer statistics. Even though the number of cases has been climbing, they say the death rate from thyroid cancer has remained unchanged over the past three decades.

So what's going on here? The researchers say we're probably just better at detecting small, less aggressive forms of thyroid cancer. The data suggest these cancers may never lead to death -- even if we don't treat them.

But for newly diagnosed patients, how do you know if your cancer is more aggressive or less? That's where you talk to your doctors,  discuss next steps, and realize that perhaps thyroid cancer may not mean what it used to.

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

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