Thyroid cancer rates in US

December 20, 2019

Bottom Line: An analysis suggests rates of thyroid cancer in the U.S. appear to have plateaued in recent years after decades on the rise. That increase was mostly attributed to more screening and imaging over the last three decades that detected many small thyroid cancers. Researchers in this observational study used cancer surveillance registry data to examine changes in rates of new cases of thyroid cancer in the U.S. from 1992 to 2016. Authors report the rate increased from 5.7 to 13.8 per 100,000 between 1992 and 2009, with the greatest annual percentage change (6.6%) from 1998 to 2009. The rate of increase slowed from 2009 to 2014 (13.8 to 14.7 per 100,000) and the rate has been stable since 2014 (from 14.7 to 14.1 per 100,000). The rate changes possibly may be due to a decline in the occurrence of thyroid cancer but the changes happened when there was a greater understanding about overdiagnosis of thyroid cancer and practice guidelines changed so a less intensive workup of thyroid nodules is a more likely explanation. Limitations of the study include that observational analyses like these cannot determine causality and the results may not be generalizable to other areas of the U.S. beyond the regions included in the registry data.

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Authors: Jennifer L. Marti, M.D., Weill Cornell Medicine, New York, and coauthors.


Editor's Note: The article includes conflict of interest disclosures. Please see the article for additional information, including other authors, author contributions and affiliations, financial disclosures, funding and support, etc.
Media advisory: To contact corresponding author Jennifer L. Marti, M.D., email Grace Naugle at The full study is linked to this news release.

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