An Epidemic of Thyroid Cancer? (The New York Times)

In a New York Times opinion piece, Dartmouth’s H. Gilbert Welch writes about an important role for epidemiologists: “identifying and controlling epidemics of medical care.”

Welch, a professor of medicine at The Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy & Clinical Practice and at the Geisel School of Medicine, refers to a recent study that he and his colleagues published on the overdiagnosis of thyroid cancer in South Korea. “We’ve all been taught to seek biological explanations for a significant rise in disease—perhaps a new infectious agent or environmental exposure. But in South Korea, we are seeing something different: an epidemic of diagnosis.”

Welch continues, “An epidemic of diagnosis is not good for anyone’s health. Resources are needlessly diverted; people are needlessly scared. But the biggest problem is that it begets an epidemic of treatment.”

Read the full opinion piece, published 11/5/14 by The New York Times.