Thyroid cancer on the rise: Is it a cause for concern?

AMARILLO, TX - Doctors are seeing a huge increase in the number of patients with thyroid cancer across the nation and right here in Amarillo.

According to the American Cancer Society, the chance of being diagnosed with thyroid cancer is now more than twice what it was back in 1990.

Genetics, obesity and over exposure to radiation are all factors doctors believe can contribute to the onset of the cancer.

"I've been in town for 11 years and when I first came, I did 5 or 6 thyroid cancer surgeries a year," said Mark Arredondo with the Texas Tech Health Science Center. "Now I easily do 50 a year."

Research suggests women are three times as likely to develop the cancer verse males.

Today, doctors still aren't sure why that is the case.

However, doctors say the most common factor possibly linked to thyroid cancer comes from radiation which can include x-rays you would get at the dentist office.

To our surprise, dentists' already have a tool to protect their patients.

"We have a thyroid guard that attaches to our lead apron," dental hygienist Becky Waldrip said. "It absorbs the radiation and prevents it from getting in the neck area. It's more recommended for children and pregnant women."

The good news, radiation levels have been regulated over the years and thanks to digital x-ray technology, the amount of radiation exposed today is a lot less than in years past.

Also, 97 percent of patients with thyroid cancer survive.

Doctors still want to warn people if they discover any abnormalities in their neck, immediately consult your primary care physician.