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BMC Public Health. 2016 Sep 8;16:950. doi: 10.1186/s12889-016-3634-4.

A detailed spatial analysis on contrasting cancer incidence patterns in thyroid and lung cancer in Toronto women.

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Prevention and Cancer Control, Cancer Care Ontario, 620 University Avenue, Toronto, Ontario, M5G 2L7, Canada.
Endocrine Oncology, Princess Margaret Cancer Centre, 585 University Avenue, 9NU-986, Toronto, Ontario, M5G 2N2, Canada.
Division of Endocrinology, Department of Medicine, University Health Network and University of Toronto, Toronto General Hospital, 200 Elizabeth Street, 12 EN-212, Toronto, Ontario, M5G 2C4, Canada.



Thyroid cancer has been rapidly rising in incidence in Canada; however, in contrast, lung cancer appears to be decreasing in incidence in Canadian men and stable in women. Moreover, disease-related mortality risk is generally very low in TC but high in LC. We performed a geographic spatial analysis in metropolitan Toronto, Canada to determine if there is regional variability of respective risks of thyroid cancer (TC) and lung cancer (LC), among women. Women were of particular interest for this study, given their known predilection for thyroid cancer.


The postal codes of all females with TC or LC, residing in metropolitan Toronto from 2004 to 2008, were geocoded to point locations according to 2006 Canadian Census data. The data were analysed using a log-Gaussian Cox Process, where the intensity of age-adjusted cancer cases was modelled as a log-linear combination of the population at risk, explanatory variables (race, immigration, and median household income), and a residual spatially varying random effect. For each respective malignancy, statistical models were fit to make quantify the relationship between cancer incidence and explanatory variables.


We included 2230 women with TC and 2412 with LC. The distribution of TC and LC cases contrasted inversely among Toronto neighbourhoods with the highest TC incidence in the Northeast and the highest LC incidence in the Southeast. A higher proportion of Asian ethnicity was associated with higher regional risk of TC and lower risk of LC. A higher proportion of recent immigrants was associated with increased LC and lower TC risk, whereas median household income and proportions of African ethnicity were not significantly associated with risk of either cancer, after adjustment for other socio-demographic variables.


We observed contrasting regional distributions of female TC and LC cases in Toronto. The differences were partly attributed to ethnic composition variability and the proportion of recent immigrants, but substantial unexplained residual variation of incidence patterns of these malignancies exists, suggesting that more individual-level research is needed to explain the regional variability of incidence of these malignancies.


Epidemiology; Female; Geographic spatial analysis; Incidence rate; Lung cancer; Small area disease mapping; Thyroid cancer

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