Thyroid cancer statistics

Cases

New cases of thyroid cancer, 2013, UK

Deaths

Deaths from thyroid cancer, 2012, UK

Prevention

Preventable cases of thyroid cancer, UK

  • There were around 3,200 new cases of thyroid cancer in the UK in 2013, that’s around 9 cases diagnosed every day.
  • Thyroid cancer is the 19th most common cancer in the UK (2013).
  • Thyroid cancer accounts for less than 1% of all new cases in the UK (2013).
  • In males in the UK, thyroid cancer is the 20th most common cancer, with around 880 cases diagnosed in 2013.
  • In females in the UK, thyroid cancer is the 17th most common cancer, with around 2,400 cases diagnosed in 2013.
  • More than half (52%) of thyroid cancer cases in the UK each year are diagnosed in people aged 50 and over (2011-2013).
  • Since the late 1970s, thyroid cancer incidence rates have more than doubled (149% increase) in Great Britain. The increase is larger in females (164% increase) than in males (152% increase).
  • Over the last decade, thyroid cancer incidence rates have increased by more than two-thirds (71%) in the UK, which includes similar increases in females (73%) and males (70%).
  • Thyroid cancer in England is not associated with deprivation.
  • In Europe, around 53,000 new cases of thyroid cancer were estimated to have been diagnosed in 2012. The UK incidence rate is 11th lowest in Europe for males and 15th lowest for females.
  • Worldwide, around 298,000 people were estimated to have been diagnosed with thyroid cancer in 2012, with incidence rates varying across the world.
  • 1 in 480 men and 1 in 180 women will be diagnosed with thyroid cancer during their lifetime.

Read more in-depth thyroid cancer incidence statistics

  • In 2012, around 370 people in the UK died from thyroid cancer.
  • In the UK in 2012 230 women and around 140 men died from thyroid cancer.
  • Thyroid cancer mortality rates in women in the UK have more than halved in the last 40 years. In men they have fallen by almost a third.
  • Thyroid cancer in England is not associated with deprivation.
  • In Europe, around 6,300 people were estimated to have died from thyroid cancer in 2012. The UK mortality rate is sixth lowest in Europe for males and ninth lowest for females.
  • Worldwide, around 37,800 people were estimated to have died from thyroid cancer in 2012, with mortality rates varying across the world.

Read more in-depth thyroid cancer mortality statistics

  • Thyroid cancer survival in England is highest for people diagnosed aged under 50 years old (2009-2013).
  • Around all people in England diagnosed with thyroid cancer aged 15-49 survive their disease for five years or more, compared with around a third of men and more than half of women diagnosed aged 80 and over (2009-2013). 

Read more in-depth thyroid cancer survival statistics

  • Less than 1% of thyroid cancer cases each year in the UK are linked to major lifestyle and other risk factors.
  • A person’s risk of developing thyroid cancer depends on many factors, including age, genetics, and exposure to risk factors (including some potentially avoidable lifestyle factors).
  • An estimated 1% of thyroid cancer cases in the UK are caused by ionising radiation.
  • Overweight and obesity, being taller, and certain medical conditions may relate to higher thyroid cancer risk, but evidence is unclear.
  • Vegetables and fish may relate to lower thyroid cancer risk, but evidence is unclear.

Read more in-depth thyroid cancer risk factors

  • 'Two-week wait' standards are met by all countries, '31-day wait' is met by all but Wales, and ‘62-day wait’ is not met by any country for head and neck cancers.
  • More than 8 in 10 patients had a ‘very good’ or ‘excellent’ patient experience.
  • Three quarters of patients are given the name of their Clinical Nurse Specialist.

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The latest statistics available for thyroid cancer in the UK are; incidence 2013, mortality 2012 and survival 2009-2013 (by age).

The ICD code Open a glossary item for thyroid cancer is ICD-10 C73.

European Age-Standardised Rates were calculated using the 1976 European Standard Population (ESP) unless otherwise stated as calculated with ESP2013. ASRs calculated with ESP2013 are not comparable with ASRs calculated with ESP1976.

Lifetime risk estimates were calculated using incidence, mortality, population and all-cause mortality data for 2012 for females and 2010-2012 for males due to the small number of cases.

Survival statistics give an overall picture of survival and (unless otherwise stated) include all adults (15-99) diagnosed, at all ages, stages Open a glossary item and co-morbidities Open a glossary item. The survival time experienced by an individual patient may be much higher or lower, depending on specific patient and tumour characteristics.

Meta-analyses Open a glossary item and systematic reviews Open a glossary item are cited where available, as they provide the best overview of all available research and most take study quality into account. Individual case-control and cohort studies Open a glossary item are reported where such aggregated data are lacking.

Cancer waiting times statistics are for patients who entered the health care system within financial year 2014-15. Thyroid cancer is part of the group 'Head and Neck cancers' for cancer waiting times data. Codes vary per country but broadly include: lip, tongue, gum, floor of mouth, palate, other and unspecified parts of mouth, parotid gland, salivary glands, tonsil, oropharynx, nasopharynx, piriform sinus, hypopharynx, other ill-defined site of lip, oral cavity and pharynx, nasal cavity and middle ear, accessory sinuses, larynx, thyroid and lymph nodes and other and ill-defined sites of the head, face and neck.

Patient Experience data is for adult patients in England with a primary diagnosis of cancer, who were in active treatment between September and November 2013 and who completed a survey in 2014.

Deprivation gradient statistics were calculated using incidence data for three time periods: 1996-2000, 2001-2005 and 2006-2010 and for mortality for two time periods: 2002-2006 and 2007-2011. The 1997-2001 mortality data were only used for the all cancers combined group as this time period includes the change in coding from ICD-9 to ICD-10. The deprivation quintiles were calculated using the Income domain scores from the Index of Multiple Deprivation (IMD) from the following years: 2004, 2007 and 2010. Full details on the data and methodology can be found in the Cancer by Deprivation in England NCIN report.

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Acknowledgements

We would like to acknowledge the essential work of the cancer registries in the United Kingdom and Ireland Association of Cancer Registries, without which there would be no data.

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