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Research Letter
July 2016

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

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

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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