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Research Letter |

Changing Trends in the Incidence of Thyroid Cancer in the United States

Luc G. T. Morris, MD, MSc1; R. Michael Tuttle, MD2; Louise Davies, MD, MS3,4
[+] Author Affiliations
1Head and Neck Service, Department of Surgery, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, New York, New York
2Endocrinology Service, Department of Medicine, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, New York, New York
3VA Outcomes Group, White River Junction, Vermont
4Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy and Clinical Practice, Hanover, New Hampshire
JAMA Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 2016;142(7):709-711. doi:10.1001/jamaoto.2016.0230.
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This study uses data from the SEER registry to examine recent national trends in thyroid cancer incidence.

The incidence of thyroid cancer in the United States has tripled in 30 years, rising rapidly since the 1990s. This substantial increase, chiefly comprising small papillary cancers, has been attributed to widespread diagnosis of subclinical disease.1 Autopsy studies show a sizeable prevalence (5%-30%) of clinically occult thyroid cancer in asymptomatic persons. The rising diagnosis of thyroid cancer has been linked to increasing health care utilization and imaging practices,24 which have led to the increased discovery of small papillary thyroid cancers, which generally exhibit indolent behavior.

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Figure.
Time Trends in Incidence of Thyroid Cancer for All Sizes and Those of 1 cm or Less

Data are expressed per 100 000 persons and age-adjusted to the 2000 US population. Data markers represent observed incidence rates; lines, the joinpoint-modeled regression lines; and percentages, the annual percentage change (Table).

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