Questions About Cancer? 1-800-4-CANCER

Cancer Snapshots: Disease Focused and Other Snapshots

  • Posted: 12/02/2013

A Snapshot of Thyroid Cancer

Incidence and Mortality

The overall incidence of thyroid cancer in the United States has increased in people of all racial/ethnic groups and in both males and females over the past three decades. In 2013, it is estimated that 60,200 Americans will be diagnosed with thyroid cancer and 1,850 will die of the disease.

The incidence of thyroid cancer is increasing more rapidly than that of any other cancer in both men and women. Some, but not all, of this increase can be explained by improved detection methods. Thyroid cancer incidence rates vary by both sex and race, with incidence being at least three times higher in females than in males and nearly twice as high in whites as in African Americans. Mortality rates remain low despite slight increases in recent decades.

Risk factors for thyroid cancer include age between 25 and 65 years, exposure to radiation to the head and neck as a child, exposure to radioactive fallout, history of goiter, family history of thyroid disease or thyroid cancer, certain genetic conditions, and obesity. There are no routine screening tests for thyroid cancer. Standard treatments for thyroid cancer include surgery, radiation therapy (including radioactive iodine therapy), chemotherapy, thyroid hormone therapy, and targeted therapy.

Line graphs showing U.S. Thyroid Cancer Incidence and mortality per 100,000, by race and gender, between 1990-2010.  In 2010 white females have the highest incidence, followed by African American females, white males, and African American males. In 2010, white males, white females, African American males and African American females have the same mortality, 1 case per 200,000.

Examples of NCI Activities Relevant to Thyroid Cancer

Selected Advances in Thyroid Cancer Research

Pie chart of NCI Thyroid Cancer Research Portfolio.  Percentage of total dollars by scientific area.  Fiscal year 2012.  Biology, 33%.  Etiology/causes of cancer, 31%.  Prevention, 1%.  Early detection, diagnosis, and prognosis, 8%.  Treatment, 14%.  Cancer control, survivorship, and outcomes research, 5%.  Scientific model systems, 8%.

Trends in NCI Funding for Thyroid Cancer Research

The National Cancer Institute's (NCI) investment1 in thyroid cancer research increased from $14.6 million in fiscal year (FY) 2008 to $16.5 million in FY 2012. In addition to this funding, NCI supported $3.4 million in thyroid cancer research in FY 2009 and FY 2010 using funding from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA).

Bar graph of NCI Thyroid Cancer Research Investment in 2008-2012: Fiscal year (FY) 2008, $14.6 million Thyroid Cancer Funding of $4.83 billion Total NCI Budget. FY 2009, $14.7 million Thyroid Cancer Funding of $4.97 billion Total NCI Budget.  FY 2010, $15.6 million Thyroid Cancer Funding of $5.10 billion Total NCI Budget.  FY 2011, $16.2 million Thyroid Cancer Funding of $5.06 billion Total NCI Budget.  FY 2012, $16.5 million Thyroid Cancer Funding of $5.07 billion Total NCI Budget.

Additional Resources for Thyroid Cancer


  • 1 The estimated NCI investment is based on funding associated with a broad range of peer-reviewed scientific activities. For additional information on research planning and budgeting at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), see About NIH.

Related Pages