Thyroid cancer: trends in incidence, mortality and clinical-pathological patterns in Zhejiang Province, Southeast China

BMC Cancer. 2018 Mar 15;18(1):291. doi: 10.1186/s12885-018-4081-7.


Background: Thyroid cancer is the most common malignant disease of the endocrine system. Previous studies indicate a rapid increase in the incidence of thyroid cancer in recent decades, and this increase has aroused the great public concern. The aim of this study was to analyze the trends in incidence, mortality and clinical-pathological patterns of thyroid cancer in Zhejiang province.

Methods: Population-based incidence and mortality rates of thyroid cancer were collected from eight cancer registries in Zhejiang from 2000 to 2012. The incidence and mortality rates were age-standardized to Segi's world population. A Joinpoint model was used to examine secular trends in age-adjusted thyroid cancer rates with the Joinpoint Regression Program Version 4.0.0. Thyroid cancer patients were recruited from Zhejiang Cancer Hospital from 1972 to 2014. Patient demographics, tumor histology and tumor size were compared among the different periods of 1972-1985, 1986-1999 and 2000-2014.

Results: The age-standardized incidence rate of thyroid cancer in Zhejiang cancer registries was 2.75/105 in 2000, and increased to 19.42/105 in 2012. Additionally, we observed significantly increasing incidence rates with the Annual Percent Change (APC) of 22.86% (95%CI, 19.2%-26.7%). The age-standardized mortality of thyroid cancer in Zhejiang cancer registries was 0.23/105 in 2000 and 0.25/105 in 2012. No significant change in mortality rate was found. We observed a rapid increase in the proportions of papillary thyroid carcinoma (PTC) in 12,508 patients with thyroid carcinoma identified in the Zhejiang Cancer Hospital from 1972 to 2014 while the proportions of poorly differentiated thyroid cancer (PDTC), medullary thyroid carcinoma (MTC) and follicular thyroid carcinoma (FTC) decreased over the decades. In the PTC cases, the proportion of patients with maximum tumor diameter (MTD) < 1 cm dramatically and significantly increased from 0 in 1972-1985 to 32.1% in 2000-2014.

Conclusions: A rapid increase in incidence and a stable trend in mortality of thyroid cancer were found in the distribution of thyroid cancer. Most of the increased incidence was PTC, especially the papillary thyroid microcarcinoma (PTMC) with MTD < 1 cm. This increase in incidence might be due to increased diagnosis with advanced technology.

Keywords: Incidence; Mortality; Over diagnosis; PTMC; Pathological classifications; Thyroid cancer.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adenocarcinoma, Follicular / epidemiology
  • Adenocarcinoma, Follicular / mortality
  • Adenocarcinoma, Follicular / pathology
  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Carcinoma, Medullary / epidemiology
  • Carcinoma, Medullary / mortality
  • Carcinoma, Medullary / pathology
  • Carcinoma, Papillary / epidemiology
  • Carcinoma, Papillary / mortality
  • Carcinoma, Papillary / pathology
  • China / epidemiology
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Mortality / trends*
  • Prognosis
  • Registries
  • Sex Factors
  • Survival Rate
  • Thyroid Neoplasms / epidemiology*
  • Thyroid Neoplasms / mortality*
  • Thyroid Neoplasms / pathology
  • Young Adult