Background: The incidence of thyroid cancer is increasing. Our objective was to characterize the demographic pattern of this increase and to examine trends in surgical therapy for thyroid cancer. Methods: Analysis of the SEER and NHDS databases was performed from 1974 to 2000 and from 1979 to 2004, respectively. Thyroid-related diagnoses were extracted, and thyroid cancer (ICD 193.X) were analyzed using the SAS statistical package. We compared the population-adjusted incidence of thyroid cancer and examined regional variations in the operative therapy for thyroid cancer. Results: The incidence of thyroid cancer has increased during the past 26 years. This increase occurred predominantly in women and in the Northeastern and Southern United States, whereas there has been a decrease in thyroid cancers in the Midwest. Papillary cancer accounts for most of this increase. Total thyroidectomy (TT) is now the most common operation for thyroid cancer. No differences in the use of TT were observed based on hospital size or insurance status. Conclusion: The increasing incidence of thyroid cancer in the United States is predominantly in women. These results suggest that women are a high-risk group for developing thyroid cancer although men have higher stage disease.
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