Graduation Year

Spring 2012

Document Type

Open Access Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts



Reader 1

Frederick R. Lynch

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© 2012 Hannah V. Gordon


The impact of the increasing incidence of thyroid cancer presents an interesting case study in public health policy and resource allocation. During the last three decades, thyroid cancer cases have increased by more than 400%. As an illness that affects the lives of hundreds of thousands each year, the human and economic costs will be magnified in the next decade. It is estimated that approximately 13-67% of people will have thyroid nodules during their life of which approximately 5% will be malignant. The standard treatment, a thyroidectomy frequently followed by radioactive 131 iodine treatment, accordingly would seem to be a likely future event for an increasing percentage of the population. Despite the magnitude of the increase, there has been no increase in age-adjusted mortality rates. This raises the question whether treatment is effective or warranted for many of these patients. Although there is almost no reliable data on its economic impact, its prevalence makes it likely that it is becoming one of the more expensive diseases in our health care system. Despite the pressing issue of its growth, thyroid cancer is one of the least studied and least funded cancers in the United States.


This thesis was updated in June 2012. Additional information has been added.

The original thesis is available as a supplemental file as linked below.

hannah-gordon-original.pdf (1148 kB)
April 2012 Version (Original)

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