Incidence and Epidemiology

  • Megan R. HaymartEmail author
  • Nazanene H. Esfandiari


The incidence of thyroid cancer is rising, and this rise in incidence is seen within all genders, races, and socioeconomic (SES) classes. The etiology of this rise in incidence remains unclear. It is known that the diagnostic cascade for thyroid cancer starts with identifying a thyroid nodule and subsequently undergoing ultrasound-guided fine needle aspiration (FNA). In a small subset of thyroid cancer cases, there is an identifiable cancer risk factor: exposure to ionizing radiation or family history. However, for the overwhelming majority of thyroid cancer patients, there is no clear risk factor for their cancer. Although some speculate that a new or previously unidentified risk factor may explain the rising incidence of thyroid cancer, the majority of the existing data supports the theory of overdiagnosis of indolent disease. Regardless of the etiology of the rise in thyroid cancer incidence, there are implications for management. Differentiating the indolent disease from the potentially life-threatening disease is complicated and requires both a greater understanding of the pathogenesis and of the implications of the thyroid cancer epidemic.


Thyroid cancer Incidence Risk factor Radiation Family history Obesity Diabetes Iodine Autoimmune thyroid Overdiagnosis 


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© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Division of Metabolism, Department of Internal Medicine, Endocrinology, and Diabetes and Hematology/OncologyUniversity of Michigan Health SystemAnn ArborUSA
  2. 2.Department of Internal Medicine, Metabolism, Endocrinology, and DiabetesUniversity of MichiganAnn ArborUSA

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