‘Parasite’ Actress Diagnosed with Thyroid Cancer

By Pat Carragher - December 20, 2021

Actress Park So Dam, best known for her role in the Oscar-winning movie "Parasite," has been diagnosed with papillary thyroid cancer. The 30-year-old actress was diagnosed during a regular checkup and has undergone surgery according to her representatives.

According to a statement from ArtistCompany, Park was scheduled to promote her next movie, "Special Delivery" when she learned of her diagnosis.

“The company would like to once again thank all the people for showing support for 'Special Delivery' and actress Park So Dam, as well as the actors and crew of 'Special Delivery' overcoming this difficult time together," the agency said. "Actor Park So Dam will focus on her recovery so that she can see you all healthy in the future, and ArtistCompany will also do our best to help the actor recover her health."

According to the American Cancer Society, more than 44,000 Americans will be diagnosed with thyroid cancer this year. Papillary thyroid cancer accounts for about 80% of all thyroid cancer diagnoses. Dr. Julie Hallanger-Johnson, chair of Moffit Cancer Center’s Endocrinology Oncology Program, says it is commonly diagnosed at a younger age than most other adult cancers, often after discovery of a thyroid nodule.

“Thyroid nodules are very common, occurring in half of the population,” said Hallanger-Johnson. “Eighty-five to 95% of the time, they are benign, non-cancerous. Fortunately, most thyroid cancers are found in the early stages, and are treated well with surgery alone.”

According to Hallanger-Johnson, women are 3 times more likely to develop the disease than men. This disparity is likely due to multiple factors.

Dr. Julie Hallanger-Johnson, Endocrinology Oncology Program chair

“Thyroid dysfunction is commonly related to autoimmune processes, such as lymphocytic thyroiditis or Grave’s disease,” said Hallanger-Johnson. “Autoimmune diseases are more common in women, so thyroid dysfunction is more common in women. Autoimmune thyroid disease can raise the risk for thyroid cancer slightly when compared to people without autoimmune thyroid disease.  Another potential issue is overdiagnosis. Women see their OB/GYN who palpates a nodule and then leads them on the path of a workup, which is very appropriate. When an ultrasound is arranged for any other reason than a palpable thyroid nodule, we are going to find incidental thyroid nodules in more than 50% of patients. Many tiny nodules may not lead to a problem during the patient’s lifetime, but are often closely monitored over time.”

If a thyroid nodule is found to be malignant, treatment by a multidisciplinary care team is indicated for best outcomes. 

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