European Journal of Epidemiology

, Volume 27, Issue 8, pp 615–622 | Cite as

Increasing incidence of thyroid cancer in Great Britain, 1976–2005: age-period-cohort analysis

  • Richard J. Q. McNally
  • Karen Blakey
  • Peter W. James
  • Basilio Gomez Pozo
  • Nermine O. Basta
  • Juliet Hale


Increases in the incidence of thyroid cancer have been previously reported. The purpose of the present study was to examine temporal trends in the incidence of primary thyroid cancer diagnosed in 0–49 year olds in parts of Great Britain during 1976–2005. Data on 4,337 cases of thyroid cancer were obtained from regional cancer registries. Age-standardized incidence rates (ASRs) were calculated. Negative binomial regression was used to examine effects of age, sex, drift (linear trend), non-linear period and non-linear cohort. The best fitting negative binomial regression model included age (P < 0.001), sex (P < 0.001) and drift (P < 0.001). Non-linear period (P = 0.648) and non-linear cohort (P = 0.788) were not statistically significant. For males aged 0–14, the ASR increased from 0.2 per million persons per year in 1976–1986 to 0.6 in 1997–2005. For males aged 15–29 and 30–49 the ASRs increased from 1.9 to 3.3 and from 7.4 to 12.7, respectively. For females aged 0–14, the corresponding ASR increased from 0.3 to 0.5. For females aged 15–29 and 30–49 the ASRs increased from 6.9 to 12.4 and from 21.2 to 42.3, respectively. For all age groups, there has been a linear increase in incidence of thyroid cancer, which has led to a doubling of the number of cases diagnosed over a twenty year span. The reasons for this increase are not well understood, but it is consistent with findings from other countries.


Aetiology Age-period-cohort analysis Great Britain Secular trends Thyroid cancer 



This work was supported by the JGW Paterson Foundation (KB) and The North of England Children’s Cancer Research Fund (NECCR, KB, PJ, BGP, NB). We are most grateful to the staff of the NWCIU (in particular Dr Catherine O’Hara who co-ordinated the data request from the two cancer registries in northern England and the Welsh Registry) and the Scottish Registry for facilitating the case data for the analyses. We are also indebted to Mr. Richard Hardy (funded by the NECCR at the Institute of Health and Society, Newcastle University) for providing IT support. The work is based on census data, which are copyright of The Crown. The work is also based on data provided with the support of the ESRC and JISC and uses Census boundary material, which is copyright of The Crown and the ED-LINE Consortium.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Richard J. Q. McNally
    • 1
  • Karen Blakey
    • 1
  • Peter W. James
    • 1
  • Basilio Gomez Pozo
    • 1
  • Nermine O. Basta
    • 1
  • Juliet Hale
    • 2
  1. 1.Institute of Health and Society, Sir James Spence Institute, Royal Victoria InfirmaryNewcastle UniversityNewcastle upon TyneUK
  2. 2.Northern Institute of Cancer Research, Sir James Spence Institute, Royal Victoria InfirmaryNewcastle UniversityNewcastle upon TyneUK

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