Thyroid cancer statistics

Cases

New cases of thyroid cancer, 2012, UK

Deaths

Deaths from thyroid cancer, 2012, UK

Prevention

Preventable cases of thyroid cancer, UK

  • There were around 3,000 new cases of thyroid cancer in the UK in 2012, that’s around 8 people every day.
  • Thyroid cancer is the 20th most common cancer in the UK (2012).
  • Thyroid cancer accounts for less than 1% of all new cases in the UK (2012).
  • Thyroid cancer is more common in women than men. More than two-and-a-half times as many women are diagnosed as men.
  • In men, thyroid cancer is the 20th most common cancer in the UK, with around 800 cases diagnosed in 2012.
  • In women, thyroid cancer is the 17th most common cancer in the UK, with around 2,200 cases diagnosed in 2012.
  • Almost 3 in 20 (13%) cases of thyroid cancer are diagnosed in people aged 75 and over.
  • Almost half of all cases of thyroid cancer in the UK are diagnosed in people aged under 50, with the under-50s accounting for a higher proportion of female cases (52%) than male cases (38%).
  • Since the late-1970s, thyroid cancer incidence rates have more than doubled (132% increase) in Great Britain.
  • Over the last decade, thyroid cancer incidence rates have increased by two-thirds (66%) in the UK.
  • 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.
  • 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

  • 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 2012, mortality 2012. Reliable survival data for the UK is currently not available. 

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.

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.

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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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