SEER Stat Fact Sheets: Thyroid Cancer

Statistics at a GlanceShow More

At a Glance

  • Estimated New Cases in 2015 62,450
  • % of All New Cancer Cases3.8%
  • Estimated Deaths in 2015 1,950
  • % of All
    Cancer Deaths

Percent Surviving
5 Years

97.9% 2005-2011

Number of New Cases and Deaths per 100,000: The number of new cases of thyroid cancer was 13.5 per 100,000 men and women per year. The number of deaths was 0.5 per 100,000 men and women per year. These rates are age-adjusted and based on 2008-2012 cases and deaths.

Lifetime Risk of Developing Cancer: Approximately 1.1 percent of men and women will be diagnosed with thyroid cancer at some point during their lifetime, based on 2010-2012 data.

Prevalence of This Cancer: In 2012, there were an estimated 601,789 people living with thyroid cancer in the United States.

Survival StatisticsShow More

How Many People Survive 5 Years Or More after Being Diagnosed with Thyroid Cancer?

Relative survivalExternal Web Site Policy statistics compare the survival of patients diagnosed with cancer with the survival of people in the general population who are the same age, race, and sex and who have not been diagnosed with cancer. Because survival statistics are based on large groups of people, they cannot be used to predict exactly what will happen to an individual patient. No two patients are entirely alike, and treatment and responses to treatment can vary greatly.


Percent Surviving
5 Years


Based on data from SEER 18 2005-2011. Gray figures represent those who have died from thyroid cancer. Green figures represent those who have survived 5 years or more.

Additional Information

Cancer stage at diagnosis, which refers to extent of a cancer in the body, determines treatment options and has a strong influence on the length of survival. In general, if the cancer is found only in the part of the body where it started it is localized (sometimes referred to as stage 1). If it has spread to a different part of the body, the stage is regional or distant. For thyroid cancer, 68.1% are diagnosed at the local stage. The 5-year survival for localized thyroid cancer is 99.9%.

Percent of Cases & 5-Year Relative Survival by Stage at Diagnosis: Thyroid Cancer
Percent of Cases by Stage
  • Localized (68%)
    Confined to Primary Site
  • Regional (26%)
    Spread to Regional Lymph Nodes
  • Distant (4%)
    Cancer Has Metastasized
  • Unknown (2%)
68% localized; 26% regional; 4% distant; 2% unknown
5-Year Relative Survival
99.9% localized; 97.8% regional; 54.1% distant; 87.7% unstaged

SEER 18 2005-2011, All Races, Both Sexes by SEER Summary Stage 2000

Additional Information

Number of New Cases and DeathsShow More

How Common Is This Cancer?

Compared to other cancers, thyroid cancer is fairly common.

Common Types of Cancer Estimated New
Cases 2015
Deaths 2015
1. Breast Cancer (Female) 231,840 40,290
2. Lung and Bronchus Cancer 221,200 158,040
3. Prostate Cancer 220,800 27,540
4. Colon and Rectum Cancer 132,700 49,700
5. Bladder Cancer 74,000 16,000
6. Melanoma of the Skin 73,870 9,940
7. Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma 71,850 19,790
8. Thyroid Cancer 62,450 1,950
9. Kidney and Renal Pelvis Cancer 61,560 14,080
10. Endometrial Cancer 54,870 10,170

Thyroid cancer represents 3.8% of all new cancer cases in the U.S.


In 2015, it is estimated that there will be 62,450 new cases of thyroid cancer and an estimated 1,950 people will die of this disease.

Thyroid cancer is more common in women than men and among those with a family history of thyroid disease. The number of new cases of thyroid cancer was 13.5 per 100,000 men and women per year based on 2008-2012 cases.

Percent of New Cases by Age Group: Thyroid Cancer
1.8% under 20; 15.1% 20-34; 19.4% 35-44; 24.1% 45-54; 20.1% 55-64; 12.6% 65-74; 5.6% 75-84; 1.4% 85 and older

Thyroid cancer is most frequently diagnosed among people aged 45-54.

Median Age
At Diagnosis


SEER 18 2008-2012, All Races, Both Sexes

Number of New Cases per 100,000 Persons by Race/Ethnicity & Sex: Thyroid Cancer
  • Male 6.7All RacesFemale 20.0
  • Male 7.2WhiteFemale 21.3
  • Male 3.5BlackFemale 11.8
  • Male 6.2Asian /
    Pacific Islander
    Female 19.3
  • Male 3.7American Indian /
    Alaska Native
    Female 12.9
  • Male 4.8HispanicFemale 18.1
  • Male 7.2Non-HispanicFemale 20.6

SEER 18 2008-2012, Age-Adjusted

For thyroid cancer, death rates increase with age. The number of deaths was 0.5 per 100,000 men and women per year based on 2008-2012 deaths.

Percent of Deaths by Age Group: Thyroid Cancer
0.2% under 20; 0.8% 20-34; 2.2% 35-44; 7.8% 45-54; 17.5% 55-64; 24.6% 65-74; 28.2% 75-84; 18.6% 85 and older

The percent of thyroid cancer deaths is highest among people aged 75-84.

Median Age
At Death


U.S. 2008-2012, All Races, Both Sexes

Number of Deaths per 100,000 Persons by Race/Ethnicity & Sex: Thyroid Cancer
  • Male 0.5All RacesFemale 0.5
  • Male 0.5WhiteFemale 0.5
  • Male 0.4BlackFemale 0.6
  • Male 0.5Asian /
    Pacific Islander
    Female 0.8
  • Not Shown, <16 casesAmerican Indian /
    Alaska Native
    Female 0.5
  • Male 0.5HispanicFemale 0.7
  • Male 0.5Non-HispanicFemale 0.5

U.S. 2008-2012, Age-Adjusted

Trends in RatesShow More

Changes Over Time

Keeping track of the number of new cases, deaths, and survival over time (trends) can help scientists understand whether progress is being made and where additional research is needed to address challenges, such as improving screening or finding better treatments.

Using statistical models for analysis, rates for new thyroid cancer cases have been rising on average 5.0% each year over the last 10 years. Death rates have not changed significantly over 2003-2012. 5-year survival trends are shown below the figure.

More About This CancerShow More

Cancer and the Thyroid

Anatomy of the thyroid and parathyroid glands; illustration shows the thyroid gland at the base of the throat near the trachea. An inset shows the front and back views. The front view shows that the thyroid is shaped like a butterfly, with the right lobe and left lobe connected by a thin piece of tissue called the isthmus. The back view shows the four pea-sized parathyroid glands.
Figure: Thyroid And Parathyroid Gland Anatomy
Click to enlarge.

This cancer forms in the thyroid gland, an organ at the base of the throat that makes hormones that help control heart rate, blood pressure, body temperature, and weight.

Four main types of thyroid cancer are papillary, follicular, medullary, and anaplastic thyroid cancer. The four types are based on how the cancer cells look under a microscope.

Additional Information

More Information

Here are some resources for learning more about thyroid cancer.


All statistics in this report are based on statistics from SEER and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's National Center for Health Statistics. Most can be found within:

Howlader N, Noone AM, Krapcho M, Garshell J, Miller D, Altekruse SF, Kosary CL, Yu M, Ruhl J, Tatalovich Z,Mariotto A, Lewis DR, Chen HS, Feuer EJ, Cronin KA (eds). SEER Cancer Statistics Review, 1975-2012, National Cancer Institute. Bethesda, MD,, based on November 2014 SEER data submission, posted to the SEER web site, April 2015.

Suggested Citation

All material in this report is in the public domain and may be reproduced or copied without permission; citation as to source, however, is appreciated.

SEER Cancer Statistics Factsheets: Thyroid Cancer. National Cancer Institute. Bethesda, MD,

This factsheet focuses on population statistics that are based on the US population. Because these statistics are based on large groups of people, they cannot be used to predict exactly what will happen to an individual patient. To see tailored statistics, browse the SEER Cancer Statistics Review. To see statistics for a specific state, go to the State Cancer ProfilesExternal Web Site Policy.

The statistics presented in this factsheet are based on the most recent data available, most of which can be found in the SEER Cancer Statistics Review. In some cases, different year spans may be used. Estimates for the current year are based on past data.

Cancer is a complex topic. There is a wide range of information available. This factsheet does not address causes, symptoms, diagnosis, treatment, follow-up care, or decision making, although it provides links to information in many of these areas.