Thyroid cancer cases double in 20 years, report finds

December 14, 2012, Cancer Research UK
Thyroid cancer cases double in 20 years

The number of people diagnosed with thyroid cancer in England has doubled since the early 1990s, according to a new report published by the National Cancer Intelligence Network (NCIN) today (Friday).

Between 1990 and 1994 around 900 people (1.7 per 100,000 people) were diagnosed with every year in England. By 2006-10 this figure increased to 1,950 (3.4 per 100,000 people). But, thanks to effective treatments, survival rate have remained high, at around 90 per cent.

Researchers from the Oxford Cancer Intelligence Unit found that most of this increase has been seen in a particular type of thyroid cancer called papillary cancer. This form of the disease has the best prognosis.

The rise has been linked to increased diagnosis of the disease through better techniques such as ultrasound and fine that can pick up much smaller cancers and possibly a 'real' rise in the number of people developing thyroid cancer.

Mr David Chadwick, consultant endocrine surgeon at Chesterfield Royal Hospital and Chair of the NCIN Thyroid Working Group, said: "The exact reason behind this steep rise in thyroid cancer cases remains unclear. We now have more sensitive so it could be that more cancers are being picked up when patients are being tested for other conditions. And, this could mean that we're detecting and treating some cancers that would otherwise not have shown up during a person's life.

"We may also be seeing a 'real' increase in the incidence of thyroid cancer, some of which may be due to improved long-term survival of other cancers previously treated with to the neck or chest. Sadly, older forms of radiotherapy had a side-effect that increased the risk of other cancers later in life."

The report also showed that thyroid cancer is three times more common in women than in men. For men and women one year had increased, by nine per cent for men to 88.3 per cent and by 15 per cent for women to 94.3 per cent.

Unlike most cancers, thyroid cancer is most often picked up in people aged between 20 and 59, particularly for the papillary form of the disease, with those aged 30 and 54 having the highest rates.

Treatment for thyroid cancer most commonly includes surgery to remove the thyroid and is often followed up with radioactive iodine. This acts as a 'targeted treatment' as the iodine is only taken up by thyroid cancer cells, ultimately killing them.

While this treatment approach has meant that most people with thyroid cancer are successfully treated, there are some forms of the disease that have a very poor .

Currently, it is difficult for doctors to predict the behaviour of thyroid cancer in an individual patient, which means that most patients will require thyroid surgery.

Chris Carrigan, head of the National Cancer Intelligence Network (NCIN), said: "This increase in the number of people being diagnosed with thyroid cancer reflects a trend that we're seeing in other countries. While thyroid cancer is generally a very treatable disease, there is a lot we don't understand about it. We need to better understand the different forms of the disease so that doctors can predict which patients need more aggressive treatment and which don't."

Explore further: The Medical Minute: Thyroid cancer on the rise

Related Stories

The Medical Minute: Thyroid cancer on the rise

September 21, 2012
September is Thyroid Cancer Awareness Month. With cases on the rise locally, nationally and globally, Dr. David Goldenberg, director of Head and Neck Surgery at Penn State Hershey Medical Center, hopes people will become ...

Have no fear: Most cases of thyroid cancer do not affect survival

June 11, 2012
Research presented at the Society of Nuclear Medicine's 59th Annual Meeting reveals that patients with differentiated thyroid cancer live as long as people in perfect health, unless they are in the minority and have reached ...

BRAF addiction of thyroid cancers makes them therapeutically vulnerable

November 21, 2011
Papillary carcinoma is the most common form of thyroid cancer. Approximately one quarter of these carcinomas have mutations in the BRAF gene. The prevalence of such mutations is even greater in high-grade carcinomas, particularly ...

Thyroid cancer treatment varies by hospital, study finds

August 16, 2011
Where thyroid cancer patients go for care plays a large role in whether they receive radioactive iodine treatment, a new study from the University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center finds.

Recommended for you

T-cells engineered to outsmart tumors induce clinical responses in relapsed Hodgkin lymphoma

January 16, 2018
WASHINGTON-(Jan. 16, 2018)-Tumors have come up with ingenious strategies that enable them to evade detection and destruction by the immune system. So, a research team that includes Children's National Health System clinician-researchers ...

Researchers identify new treatment target for melanoma

January 16, 2018
Researchers in the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania have identified a new therapeutic target for the treatment of melanoma. For decades, research has associated female sex and a history of previous ...

More evidence of link between severe gum disease and cancer risk

January 16, 2018
Data collected during a long-term health study provides additional evidence for a link between increased risk of cancer in individuals with advanced gum disease, according to a new collaborative study led by epidemiologists ...

Researchers develop a remote-controlled cancer immunotherapy system

January 15, 2018
A team of researchers has developed an ultrasound-based system that can non-invasively and remotely control genetic processes in live immune T cells so that they recognize and kill cancer cells.

Dietary fat, changes in fat metabolism may promote prostate cancer metastasis

January 15, 2018
Prostate tumors tend to be what scientists call "indolent" - so slow-growing and self-contained that many affected men die with prostate cancer, not of it. But for the percentage of men whose prostate tumors metastasize, ...

Pancreatic tumors may require a one-two-three punch

January 15, 2018
One of the many difficult things about pancreatic cancer is that tumors are resistant to most treatments because of their unique density and cell composition. However, in a new Wilmot Cancer Institute study, scientists discovered ...


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.