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Thyroid cancer

ICD-10 C73
2018

¹ per 100,000 persons, age-standardised according to the old European standard population

* calculated using the period method for 2017 / 2018

WomenMen
Incidence4,2701,930
Age-standardised incidence rate¹10.24.7
Deaths390300
Age-standardised mortality rate¹0.40.4
5-year prevalence21,1008,500
10-year prevalence40,50015,800
Relative 5-year survival rate*95 %91 %
Relative 10-year survival rate*94 %88 %

In 2018, approximately 4,270 women and 1,930 men were diagnosed with thyroid cancer. The average age at diagnosis was 51 years for women and 56 years for men. Between 1999 and 2018, for both women and men, age-standardised mortality rates decreased in Germany while incidence rates increased. However, only the prognostically very favourable papillary carcinomas, which comprise the most frequent histological type in both women and men, contributed to this. The increase mainly affected adults below the age of 60 years.

Age-standardised incidence and mortality rates by sex, ICD-10 C73, Germany 1999 – 2016/2017, projection (incidence) through 2020, per 100,000 (old European standard population). Source: © German Centre for Cancer Registry Data at the Robert Koch Institute Age-standardised incidence and mortality rates by sex, ICD-10 C73, Germany 1999 – 2016/2017, projection (incidence) through 2020, per 100,000 (old European standard population)

Distribution of malignant neoplasms of the thyroid gland by histological type and sex, ICD-10 C73, Germany 2015 – 2016. Source: © German Centre for Cancer Registry Data at the Robert Koch Institute Distribution of malignant neoplasms of the thyroid gland by histological type and sex, ICD-10 C73, Germany 2015 – 2016

The increase in thyroid cancer incidence is most likely due to increases in imaging diagnostics with improved examination methods. In an international comparison with selected countries, incidence rates in Germany lie in the middle of the range of rates. The highest rates are found in the USA and France. Thyroid cancer is mostly detected at an early stage (UICC I: 88 percent in women, 75 percent in men) and has a favourable prognosis with relative 5-year survival rates of 95 percent in women and 91 percent in men (exception: anaplastic carcinomas with only 10 percent).

Ionising radiation increases the risk of disease

Ionising radiation from the environment increases the risk of thyroid cancer. The thyroid gland is particularly sensitive to radiation during childhood. For example, the risk of thyroid cancer is increased if the thyroid gland lies within the radiation field during radiation therapy. The intake of radioactive iodine also increases risk, as was discovered in the Soviet republics affected by the Chernobyl reactor accident.

Other nutritional, lifestyle or environmental factors have not been convincingly shown to affect risk. It is also unclear why women are affected more often than men. Many patients have a history of iodine deficiency and benign thyroid diseases, such as goitre and adenomas, which increase the risk of thyroid carcinoma. Approximately one fifth of patients with rare medullary thyroid carcinomas carry genetic changes that are inherited in an autosomal dominant manner. Medullary thyroid carcinoma can also occur together with other endocrine tumours as a syndrome known as multiple endocrine neoplasia type 2 (MEN 2). A genetic component is also suspected in papillary thyroid carcinomas.

Date: 03.06.2022

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