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Eur J Epidemiol. 2012 Aug;27(8):615-22. doi: 10.1007/s10654-012-9710-x. Epub 2012 Jul 4.

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

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  • 1Institute of Health and Society, Sir James Spence Institute, Royal Victoria Infirmary, Newcastle University, Newcastle upon Tyne, UK.


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.

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