The incidence of thyroid cancer, including medullary thyroid carcinoma (MTC), has been increasing over the last 20 years in Taiwan, according to a new study published in Cancer Causes & Control. This is the case for both sexes, all age groups, and any type of tumor.

“Future studies are needed to investigate potential etiological factors other than overdiagnosis that may drive these trends,” the authors of the study wrote.

An increase in the incidence of thyroid cancer has been noted over recent decades, but there seems to be considerable variation across different geographic regions. 

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In the present study, a team of researchers led by Shih-Ping Cheng, PhD, from MacKay Medical College and Taipei Medical University in Taiwan analyzed temporal trends in the incidence of thyroid cancer and mortality rates of the disease in their country over the last 2 decades.

Read more about the epidemiology of MTC

The team analyzed data that they obtained from the annual reports of the Taiwan Cancer Registry between 1995 and 2019.

They found that the age-standardized incidence rate of thyroid cancer increased from 3 per 100,000 person-years in 1995 to 15.46 per 100,000 person-years in 2019. 

This upward trend was seen in almost all age groups, including adolescents and the elderly. 

The average annual percent change was 7.97% for papillary thyroid cancer and 2.6% for follicular thyroid carcinoma. For MTC, it was 1.43%, while for anaplastic thyroid cancers, it was 1.43%. 

Even though the incidence of the disease increased, the mortality rate decreased over time. However, this was only the case in women, while it stayed the same in men.

Thyroid cancer is the most common type of endocrine malignancy across the world. MTC is a rare type of thyroid cancer arising from the parafollicular or C cells of the thyroid gland.


Cheng SYH, Hsu YC, Cheng SP. Trends in thyroid cancer burden in Taiwan over two decades. Cancer Causes Control. Published online April 12, 2023. doi:10.1007/s10552-023-01694-y