Thyroid cancer incidence statistics

Thyroid cancer is the 20th most common cancer in the UK (2012), accounting for less than 1% of all new cases. In females, it is the 17th most common cancer (1% of the female total), whilst in males it is the 20th most common cancer (less than 1% of the male total).[1-4]

In 2012, there were 3,018 new cases of thyroid cancer in the UK: 807 (27%) in men and 2,211 (73%) in women, giving a male:female ratio of around 10:25.[1-4] The crude incidence rate Open a glossary item shows that there are around 3 new thyroid cancer cases for every 100,000 males in the UK, and around 7 for every 100,000 females.

Thyroid cancer is one of the few cancers which can occur in both sexes but is more common in women than men. This is probably at least partly due to the female sex hormone oestrogen promoting thyroid cell growth, though epidemiological evidence remains unclear.[5]

For females, the European age-standardised incidence rates Open a glossary item (AS rate) are significantly lower in Wales compared with England and Northern Ireland, with no other differences between the other constituent countries of the UK. For males, there are no significant differences in rates between the UK countries.[1-4]

Thyroid Cancer (C73), Number of New Cases, Crude and European Age-Standardised (AS) Incidence Rates per 100,000 Population, UK, 2012

England Wales Scotland Northern Ireland UK
Male Cases 689 35 63 20 807
Crude Rate 2.6 2.3 2.4 2.2 2.6
AS Rate 2.9 2.4 2.6 2.7 2.8
AS Rate - 95% LCL 2.7 1.6 2.0 1.5 2.6
AS Rate - 95% UCL 3.1 3.2 3.2 3.8 3.0
Female Cases 1,906 67 167 71 2,211
Crude Rate 7.0 4.3 6.1 7.6 6.8
AS Rate 7.2 4.3 6.1 8.2 7.0
AS Rate - 95% LCL 6.9 3.3 5.2 6.3 6.7
AS Rate - 95% UCL 7.6 5.3 7.0 10.1 7.3
Persons Cases 2,595 102 230 91 3,018
Crude Rate 4.9 3.3 4.3 5.0 4.7
AS Rate 5.1 3.4 4.4 5.6 5.0
AS Rate - 95% LCL 4.9 2.7 3.8 4.4 4.8
AS Rate - 95% UCL 5.3 4.0 5.0 6.7 5.1

95% LCL and 95% UCL are the 95% lower and upper confidence limits Open a glossary item around the AS Rate Open a glossary item

ASR calculated with ESP2013. Not comparable with ASRs calculated with ESP1976.

The latest analysis of thyroid cancer incidence rates throughout England reports modest variation between the former cancer networks, with the highest rates being in parts of the West Midlands, Thames Valley and Yorkshire, and the lowest in parts of the South and parts of the North-East.[6]

References

  1. Data were provided by the Office for National Statistics on request, July 2014. Similar data can be found here: http://www.ons.gov.uk/ons/rel/vsob1/cancer-statistics-registrations--england--series-mb1-/index.html.
  2. Data were provided by ISD Scotland on request, April 2014. Similar data can be found here: http://www.isdscotland.org/Health-Topics/Cancer/Publications/index.asp.
  3. Data were provided by the Welsh Cancer Intelligence and Surveillance Unit on request, April 2014. Similar data can be found here: http://www.wales.nhs.uk/sites3/page.cfm?orgid=242&pid=59080.
  4. Data were provided by the Northern Ireland Cancer Registry on request, June 2014. Similar data can be found here: http://www.qub.ac.uk/research-centres/nicr/.
  5. Peterson E, De P, Nuttal R. BMI, diet and female reproductive factors as risks for thyroid cancer: a systematic review. PLoS ONE 2012;7(1):e29177
  6. Oxford Cancer Intelligence Unit. Profile of Head and Neck Cancers in England: Incidence, Mortality and Survival. 2010.
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Thyroid cancer incidence in males is strongly related to age with the highest incidence rates being in older men. However, incidence in females does not entirely follow the pattern of increasing incidence with age seen in males (and in most other cancers). In the UK between 2010 and 2012, an average of 16% of male cases and 12% of female cases were diagnosed in those aged 75 and over. 38% of male cases, and 52% of female cases were diagnosed in those aged under 50.[1-4]

Age-specific incidence rates in males rise gradually from around age 10-14 years. Rates in females rise sharply from around age 10-14, reaching a peak at ages 35-39, then remaining relatively stable until dropping sharply in women aged 90 and over. Incidence rates are higher for females than for males for most age groups (the difference is not significant in the remaining age groups). This gap is widest at age 20-24, when the male:female incidence ratio of age-specific rates (to account for the different proportions of males to females in each age group) is around 10:52.[1-4] Hormonal factors may be implicated in the association with age in females.[5]

Thyroid Cancer (C73), Average Number of New Cases per Year and Age-Specific Incidence Rates per 100,000 Population, UK, 2010-2012

ASR calculated with ESP2013. Not comparable with ASRs calculated with ESP1976.

References

  1. Data were provided by the Office for National Statistics on request, July 2014. Similar data can be found here: http://www.ons.gov.uk/ons/rel/vsob1/cancer-statistics-registrations--england--series-mb1-/index.html.
  2. Data were provided by ISD Scotland on request, April 2014. Similar data can be found here: http://www.isdscotland.org/Health-Topics/Cancer/Publications/index.asp.
  3. Data were provided by the Welsh Cancer Intelligence and Surveillance Unit on request, April 2014. Similar data can be found here: http://www.wales.nhs.uk/sites3/page.cfm?orgid=242&pid=59080.
  4. Data were provided by the Northern Ireland Cancer Registry on request, June 2014. Similar data can be found here: http://www.qub.ac.uk/research-centres/nicr/.
  5. Peterson E, De P, Nuttal R. BMI, diet and female reproductive factors as risks for thyroid cancer: a systematic review. PLoS ONE 2012;7(1):e29177
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Thyroid cancer incidence rates have increased overall in Great Britain since the late-1970s, though this includes a period of stability, followed by a larger increase.[1-3] For males, European age-standardised Open a glossary item (AS) incidence rates remained stable until 1994-1996 and have since increased by 110%. The overall rise is bigger for females, with rates remaining stable until 1991-1993, and since increasing by 126%.

Incidental detection of subclinical disease due to widespread use of ultrasound partly explains this increase,[4-7] though changes in prevalence of thyroid cancer risk factors including obesity and medical radiation exposure are probably also implicated in the trend.[8-11]

Thyroid Cancer (C73), European Age-Standardised Incidence Rates per 100,000 Population, by Sex, Great Britain, 1979-2012

ASR calculated with ESP2013. Not comparable with ASRs calculated with ESP1976.
 

Over the last decade (between 2001-2003 and 2010-2012), the European AS incidence rates in the UK have increased by 68% and 67% in males and females, respectively.[1-3,12]

Thyroid Cancer (C73), European Age-Standardised Incidence Rates per 100,000 Population, by Sex, UK, 1993-2012

ASR calculated with ESP2013. Not comparable with ASRs calculated with ESP1976.
 

For males, thyroid cancer incidence rates have increased overall for all of the broad age groups in Great Britain since the late-1970s, though in the younger age groups (0-24, 25-49, 50-59) this includes a period of stability followed by an increase from the early 1990s onwards.[1-3]The largest overall increase has been for males aged 25-49, with European AS incidence rates almost quadrupling (increasing by 285%) between 1979-1981 and 2010-2012. For men aged 60-69, 70-79-, and 80+, incidence rates have fluctuated but overall have increased by 108%, 94% and 67% respectively between 1979-1981 and 2010-2012.

Thyroid Cancer (C73), European Age-Standardised Incidence Rates per 100,000 Population, by Age, Males, Great Britain, 1979-2012

ASR calculated with ESP2013. Not comparable with ASRs calculated with ESP1976.
 

For females, thyroid cancer incidence rates have also increased overall for most of the broad age groups in Great Britain between 1979-1981 and 2010-2012, with an initial period of stability for those aged 0-24, 25-49, 50-59 and 60-69.[1-3] Following a similar pattern to males, the largest overall increase was in females aged 25-49, with rates almost quadrupling (289% increase) between 1979-1981 and 2010-2012. Only in women aged 80+ have rates remained stable between 1975-1977 and 2009-2011, though they have fluctuated over this time.

The reasons for the larger increases in younger age groups are not clear, though younger people may be more likely to undergo diagnostic procedures through which thyroid cancers are incidentally diagnosed.[5]

Thyroid Cancer (C73), European Age-Standardised Incidence Rates per 100,000 Population, by Age, Females, Great Britain, 1979-2012

ASR calculated with ESP2013. Not comparable with ASRs calculated with ESP1976.

References

  1. Data were provided by the Office for National Statistics on request, July 2014. Similar data can be found here: http://www.ons.gov.uk/ons/rel/vsob1/cancer-statistics-registrations--england--series-mb1-/index.html.
  2. Data were provided by ISD Scotland on request, April 2014. Similar data can be found here: http://www.isdscotland.org/Health-Topics/Cancer/Publications/index.asp.
  3. Data were provided by the Welsh Cancer Intelligence and Surveillance Unit on request, April 2014. Similar data can be found here: http://www.wales.nhs.uk/sites3/page.cfm?orgid=242&pid=59080.
  4. Davies L, Welch HG. Increasing incidence of thyroid cancer in the United States, 1973-2002. JAMA 2006; 295(18): 2164-7

  5. Olaleve O, Ekrikpo U, Moorthy R, et al. Increasing incidence of differentiated thyroid cancer in South East England: 1987-2006. Eur Arch Otorhinolaryngol 2011;268(6):899-906.
  6. Chen AY, Jemal A, Ward EM. Increasing incidence of differentiated thyroid cancer in the United States, 1988-2005. Cancer 2009;115(16):3801-7
  7. Aschebrook-Kilfoy B, Ward MH, Sabra MM, et al. Thyroid cancer incidence patterns in the United States by histologic type, 1992-2006. Thyroid 2011;21(2):125-34
  8. Peterson E, De P, Nuttal R. BMI, diet and female reproductive factors as risks for thyroid cancer: a systematic review. PLoS ONE 2012;7(1):e29177
  9. Zhao ZG, Guo XG, Ba CX, et al. Overweight, Obesity and Thyroid Cancer Risk: A Meta-analysis of Cohort Studies. J Int Med Res 2012;40(6):2041-50.
  10. Blomberg M, Feldt-Rasmussen U, Anderson KK, et al. Thyroid cancer in Denmark 1943-2008, before and after iodine supplementation. Int J Cancer 2012;131(10):2360-6.
  11. Enewold L, Zhu K, Ron E, et al. Rising thyroid cancer incidence in the United States by demographic and tumor characteristics, 1980-2005. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev 2009;18(3):784-91.
  12. Data were provided by the Northern Ireland Cancer Registry on request, June 2014. Similar data can be found here: http://www.qub.ac.uk/research-centres/nicr/.
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The lifetime risk of developing thyroid cancer is around 1 in 480 for men and around 1 in 180 for women, in 2012 in the UK.[1]

The lifetime risk for thyroid cancer has been calculated to account for the possibility that someone can have more than one diagnosis of thyroid cancer over the course of their lifetime (‘Adjusted for Multiple Primaries’ (AMP) method).[2]

References

  1. Lifetime risk estimates calculated by the Statistical Information Team at Cancer Research UK. Based on data provided by the Office of National Statistics, ISD Scotland, the Welsh Cancer Intelligence and Surveillance Unit and the Northern Ireland Cancer Registry, on request, December 2013 to July 2014.
  2. Sasieni PD, Shelton J, Ormiston-Smith N, et al. What is the lifetime risk of developing cancer?: The effect of adjusting for multiple primaries. Br J Cancer, 2011. 105(3): p. 460-5.
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Thyroid cancer is the 18th most common cancer in Europe, with around 53,000 new cases diagnosed in 2012 (2% of the total). In Europe (2012), the highest World age-standardised Open a glossary item incidence rates for thyroid cancer are in Italy for men and Lithuania for women; the lowest rates are in Montenegro for men and Albania for women. UK thyroid cancer incidence rates are estimated to be the 11th lowest in males in Europe, and 15th lowest in females.[1] These data are broadly in line with Europe-specific data available elsewhere.[2]

Thyroid cancer is the 16th most common cancer worldwide, with around 298,000 new cases diagnosed in 2012 (2% of the total). Thyroid cancer incidence rates are highest in Northern America and lowest in Western Africa, but this partly reflects varying data quality worldwide.[1]

Variation between countries may reflect different prevalence of risk factors, use of screening, and diagnostic methods.

References

  1. Ferlay J, Soerjomataram I, Ervik M, et al. GLOBOCAN 2012 v1.0, Cancer Incidence and Mortality Worldwide: IARC CancerBase No. 11 [Internet]. Lyon, France: International Agency for Research on Cancer; 2013. Available from: http://globocan.iarc.fr, accessed December 2013.
  2. Ferlay J, Steliarova-Foucher E, Lortet-Tieulent J, et al.Cancer incidence and mortality patterns in Europe: Estimates for 40 countries in 2012. European Journal of Cancer (2013) 49, 1374-1403.
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Prevalence refers to the number of people who have previously received a diagnosis of cancer and who are still alive at a given time point. Some patients will have been cured of their disease and others will not.

Worldwide, it is estimated that there were more than 862,000 men and women still alive in 2008, up to five years after being diagnosed with thyroid cancer.[1]

References

  1. Ferlay J, Shin HR, Bray F, et al. GLOBOCAN 2008 v1.2, Cancer incidence and mortality worldwide: IARC CancerBase No. 10 [Internet]. Lyon, France: International Agency for Research on Cancer; 2010. Available from http://globocan.iarc.fr.
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