Racial and Ethnic Disparities in Appropriate Thyroid Cancer Treatment, Before and After the Release of the 2015 American Thyroid Association Guidelines

Ann Surg Oncol. 2023 May;30(5):2928-2937. doi: 10.1245/s10434-023-13158-3. Epub 2023 Feb 7.


Background: The 2015 American Thyroid Association (ATA) guidelines reduced the recommended extent of therapy for low-risk thyroid cancers. Little is known about the impact of these changes on overall treatment patterns and on previously described racial/ethnic disparities in guideline-concordant care. This study aimed to assess trends in thyroid cancer care before and after release of the 2015 guidelines, with particular attention to racial/ethnic disparities.

Methods: Patients with well-differentiated thyroid cancer were identified from the National Cancer Database (2010-2018). An interrupted time series design was used to assess trends in treatment before and after the 2015 guidelines. Appropriateness of surgical and radioactive iodine (RAI) treatment was determined based on the ATA guidelines, and the likelihood of receiving guideline-concordant treatment was compared between racial/ethnic groups.

Results: The study identified 309,367 patients (White 74%, Black 8%, Hispanic 9%, Asian 6%). Between 2010 and 2015, the adjusted probability of appropriate surgery was lower for Black (- 2.1%; p < 0.001), Hispanic (- 1.0%; p < 0.001), and Asian (- 2.1%; p < 0.001) patients than for White patients. After 2015, only Hispanic patients had a lower probability of undergoing appropriate surgical therapy (- 2.6%; p = 0.040). Similarly, between 2010 and 2015, the adjusted probability of receiving appropriate RAI therapy was lower for the Hispanic (- 3.6%; p < 0.001) and Asian (- 2.4%; p < 0.001) patients than for White patients. After 2015, the probability of appropriate RAI therapy did not differ between groups.

Conclusions: Between 2010 and 2015, patients from racial/ethnic minority backgrounds were less likely than White patients to receive appropriate surgical and RAI therapy for thyroid cancer. After the 2015 guidelines, racial/ethnic disparities in treatment improved.

MeSH terms

  • Ethnicity*
  • Healthcare Disparities
  • Humans
  • Iodine Radioisotopes
  • Minority Groups
  • Thyroid Neoplasms* / therapy
  • United States


  • Iodine Radioisotopes