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The UK NSC recommendation on Thyroid disease screening in adults

 
Recommendation Systematic population screening programme not recommended
Last review completed December 2013
Next review due in 2016/17
 
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A national screening programme to prevent thyroid disease in adults is not recommended. Tests measuring thyroid hormone levels are available. Treatment of people who are ill because of thyroid disease is recommended within the NHS.

 

Find general information about population health screening.

More about Thyroid disease

Thyroid disease is a medical condition impairing the function of the thyroid.

Hyperthyroidism, also known as thyrotoxicosis or overactive thyroid, is a condition that occurs when there is too much thyroid hormone in the body. The condition is more common in women than men.

Hypothyroidism describes the general effects of a severely underactive thyroid gland, where not enough hormones are produced to keep the body functioning properly.

» Read more about overactive thyroid on NHS Choices

» Read more about underactive thyroid on NHS Choices

Why is screening not recommended by UK NSC?

Screening would detect people before they become ill and a review found that:

  • There is a lack of agreement about what a normal thyroid hormone level is.
  • In people who are not ill this means that it is difficult to use test results to decide who should receive treatment.
  • Some people's thyroid hormone levels will return to normal without treatment. These people may not benefit from treatment. It is not known how many this is.
  • There is some evidence that there may be harmful effects from treating people with no symptoms of thyroid disease. These have not been properly studied.

Because of this, the balance of benefit and harm from screening is not known.

Stakeholders

British Thyroid Association
British Thyroid Foundation

The stakeholder groups will be involved when the recommendation is next reviewed. If you think your organisation should be added, please contact us. More about the recommendation review process, including the role of stakeholders, can be found in the guide to Engaging with the UK NSC's recommendation review process.

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