There are significant socioeconomic disparities in the management of pediatric thyroid cancers, such as medullary thyroid carcinoma (MTC), according to a recently published study in the International Journal of Pediatric Otorhinolaryngology.

Thyroid cancers are becoming more frequent in children year, the researchers noted. According to recent statistics, thyroid malignancies represent the second most common solid tumor in pediatric patients after central nervous system tumors, they added.

According to some studies, there might be racial and socioeconomic disparities between pediatric patients with thyroid cancer, the study team said. Evidence reveals that although survival rates of pediatric cancers have improved in the last decade, outcomes for disadvantaged groups remain below the mean. In fact, survival cancer rates of disadvantaged groups are almost 10% of the average for the general population, the study authors wrote.

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The authors aimed to assess disparities due to race and socioeconomic circumstances using data from the National Cancer Institute’s Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results program. Patients were 19 years of age or younger and had histologically verified medullary thyroid carcinoma, follicular thyroid carcinoma, or papillary thyroid carcinoma. The researchers analyzed demographic characteristics such as the ethnicity and socioeconomic status of the included patients.

Approximately 2000 patients from the database had the necessary demographic data to be included in the study. Overall, 55% of the population was classified as White, 15% as non-White, and 30% as Hispanic. Results showed that Hispanic and non-White patients were more likely to have more advanced diseases at the moment of diagnosis. Other factors associated with advanced disease at the time of disease were age, male sex, and histology.

“As many early thyroid tumors are diagnosed through serendipity (incidental findings on imaging studies acquired for other reasons), patients of non-White race or non-Hispanic ethnicity may have a lower access and subsequently the lower rate of imaging studies overall,” the authors wrote.

Although there was no significant difference in radioactive iodine treatment and the extent of thyroidectomy among ethnicities or socioeconomic groups, non-White patients and Hispanic patients underwent significantly fewer neck dissections than White patients.

“These data not only provide a foundation for further study to determine the mechanisms of the associations between sociodemographic factors and cancer outcomes but also represent an opportunity for providers to explore interventions to mitigate these considerable disparities for this disease,” the authors concluded.


Sharma RK, Patel S, Gallant J-N, et al. Racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic disparities in the presentation and management of pediatric thyroid cancer. Int J Pediatr Otorhinolaryngol. Published online October 1, 2022. doi:10.1016/j.ijporl.2022.111331