(HealthDay News) — The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) has concluded that there is currently insufficient evidence to assess the benefits and harms of thyroid screening. These findings form the basis of a draft recommendation statement based on an evidence review published online October 28 in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

In an effort to update the 2004 USPSTF recommendation, J. Bruin Rugge, MD, MPH, from the Oregon Health & Science University in Portland, and colleagues conducted a systematic review on the benefits and harms of screening and treatment of subclinical and undiagnosed overt hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism in adults.

The researchers found that there were no studies that directly assessed the benefits and harms of screening versus no screening. One fair-quality study showed that treatment of subclinical hypothyroidism versus no treatment correlated with decreased risk of coronary heart disease. There was no indication of improvements in quality of life, cognitive function, blood pressure, or body mass index for treatment versus no treatment. Treatment vs. no treatment of screen-detected, undiagnosed overt thyroid dysfunction was not assessed in any study. More research is needed to determine the clinical benefits of thyroid screening. These findings form the basis of a draft recommendation statement, which is available for comment from October 28 to November 24.

“Screening and treating asymptomatic adults for thyroid dysfunction is common practice,” USPSTF member Jessica Herzstein, MD, MPH, said in a statement. “But right now we don’t know if this ultimately benefits them in the long term.”

Evidence Review
Draft Recommendation
Comment on Recommendation