Increasing Trends in Thyroid Cancer Burden Since 1990 Observed Worldwide

thyroid cancer
“Digital medical illustration: Perspective x-ray view of human thyroid with tumor. Anatomically correct. Isolated on black.For other cancer related-and general anatomy images, see:”
Increasing trends in global thyroid cancer burden were observed in a cross-sectional study using data from 195 countries in 21 regions.

Increasing trends in global thyroid cancer burden were observed in cross-sectional study data published in JAMA Network Open.

Thyroid cancer is the most pervasive endocrine cancer worldwide, but clear associations between thyroid cancer and demographic factors have not yet been established.

To conduct an in-depth analysis of thyroid cancer in all regions of the world based on various factors, epidemiologic data from 21 regions and 195 countries from January 1, 1990, to December 31, 2017, were analyzed. Individuals were divided into 4 age groups (5-14, 15-49, 50-69, and ≥70 years). Sociodemographic indices were determined by education level, income per capita, and fertility rate and countries were divided into sociodemographic index quintiles.

From 1990 to 2017, global incident cases of thyroid cancer increased by 169%, deaths increased by 87%, and disability-adjusted life-years (DALY) increased by 75%. The global age-standardized incidence rate showed an upward trend worldwide (estimated annual percentage change [EAPC], 1.59; 95% CI, 1.51-1.67), whereas decreasing trends were observed for the global age-standardized death rate (EAPC, -0.15; 95% CI, -0.19 to -0.12) and global age-standardized DALY rate (EAPC, -0.11; 95% CI, -0.15 to -0.08).

When considering rate changes by sex, all rates trended upward for men, whereas age-standardized death rate and age-standardized DALY rate decreased for women. A third (34%) of patients with thyroid cancer resided in countries with a sociodemographic index categorized as high and most were aged 50 to 69 years of age.

Whereas the age-standardized incidence rate of thyroid cancer in the highest sociodemographic index quintile started decreasing after 2010, this rate continued to increase over time in the other 4 quintiles.

Taken together, these findings showed an increasing global incidence of thyroid cancer, death, and DALY, with differences in sex and age observed. Asia was shown to have the greatest burden of thyroid cancer, though this may have been due to its large population base. “The most common onset age in persons who developed thyroid cancer decreased, and the age at death of those with thyroid cancer increased worldwide,” the researchers noted, adding that people in lower sociodemographic index quintiles developed thyroid cancer and died from it earlier than individuals in other quintiles. Some differences over time may have been attributable to changes in diagnostic guidelines or healthcare policies.

Limitations to this study included the heterogeneity of data acquisition across regions around the world.

Further research into the method by which contributing sociodemographic factors may affect thyroid cancer is warranted.


Deng Y, Li H, Wang M, et al. Global burden of thyroid cancer from 1990 to 2017. JAMA Netw Open. 2020;3(6):e208759.