Current Status of Thyroid Cancer Screening in Korea: Results From a Nationwide Interview Survey


Objective: Since 2000, thyroid cancer has been increasing most rapidly in Korea. Although the cause of the increase is not clear, thyroid cancer screening could be identified as one of its causes. The purpose of this study was to examine the screening rate of thyroid cancer and its related factors using nationwide data.
Methods: The study population was derived from the 2009 Korea National Cancer Screening Survey (KNCSS), an annual cross-sectional survey that uses a nationally representative random sampling to investigate cancer screening rates. A total of 2,000 Korean adults participated. The screening method of thyroid cancer was restricted to thyroid ultrasonography. Logistic regression was used to identify factors associated with undergoing thyroid cancer screening.
Results: Of all participants, 13.2% (8.4% men and 16.4% women) underwent thyroid ultrasonography. On multiple analyses, age, residence, belief in cancer screening, regular health check-ups, smoking, alcohol drinking, and exercise were associated with thyroid cancer screening. Subjects who underwent other cancer screening, such as gastric, colorectal, breast, or cervical, were more likely to have had a thyroid ultrasonogram that those who did not get screened.
Conclusions: We presented the number and characteristics of examinees utilized ultrasonography as a thyroid screening tool in Korea. Although these results revealed that cancer screening might play a major role in the increase of thyroid cancer incidence, further research is needed to determine causes of the rapidly increasing incidence of thyroid cancer in Korea.