Thyroid Cancer: Statistics

Approved by the Cancer.Net Editorial Board, 09/2016

ON THIS PAGE: You will find information about how many people are diagnosed with this type of cancer each year. You will also learn some general information on surviving the disease. Remember, survival rates depend on several factors. To see other pages, use the menu.

This year, an estimated 64,300 adults (14,950 men and 49,350 women) in the United States will be diagnosed with thyroid cancer. Thyroid cancer is the fifth most common cancer in women. The incidence rates of thyroid cancer in both women and men have been increasing in recent years. In fact, it is the most rapidly increasing cancer diagnosis in the United States. Researchers believe that part of the reason for the increase is that new, highly sensitive diagnostic tests are leading to increased detection of smaller cancers.

It is estimated that 1,980 deaths (910 men and 1,070 women) from this disease will occur this year. Women are 3 times more likely to have thyroid cancer than men, but women and men die at equal rates. This suggests that men have a worse prognosis than women when there is a diagnosis of thyroid cancer. Prognosis is the chance of recovery.

The 5-year survival rate tells you what percent of people live at least 5 years after the cancer is found. Percent means how many out of 100. The 5-year survival rate for people with thyroid cancer is 98%. The 10-year survival rate and 15-year survival rate are 97% and 95%, respectively.

However, survival rates are based on many factors, including the specific type of thyroid cancer, and stage of disease. If the cancer is located only in the thyroid, the 5-year survival rate is 99%. If thyroid cancer has spread to surrounding tissues or organs and/or the regional lymph nodes, the 5-year survival rate is 98%. If the cancer has spread to a distant part of the body, the 5-year survival rate is 54%.

It is important to remember that statistics on how many people survive this type of cancer are an estimate. The estimate comes from data based on thousands of people with this cancer in the United States each year. So, your own risk may be different. Doctors cannot say for sure how long anyone will live with thyroid cancer. Also, experts measure the survival statistics every 5 years. This means that the estimate may not show the results of better diagnosis or treatment available for less than 5 years. Learn more about understanding statistics.

Statistics adapted from the American Cancer Society's publication, Cancer Facts & Figures 2016.

The next section in this guide is Medical Illustrations. It offers drawings of body parts often affected by this disease. Or, use the menu to choose another section to continue reading this guide.