Trends in Thyroid Cancer Incidence in Korean Children (1999-2012) Based on Palpation and Nonpalpation Detection Methods

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The incidence of childhood thyroid cancer is increasing in several populations; however, contributing factors have not been adequately discussed.


Our aim was to identify trends of childhood thyroid cancer based on the Korea Central Cancer Registry (KCCR) database and to elucidate changes in detection methods of cancers using a single-center database.


Data from the KCCR and Statistics Korea between 1999 and 2012 were used to calculate the crude incidence of thyroid cancer in children. To analyze detection methods for cancers, pediatric patients (aged 0-19 years, n = 126) who underwent thyroid surgery for thyroid cancers at our institution were identified. Subjects were divided into two groups by detection method: (1) palpation group and (2) screening group.


The crude incidence of childhood thyroid cancer increased from 0.5 per 100,000 in 1999 to 1.7 in 2012. The proportion of thyroid cancer among total cancers also increased from 4.4% in 1999 to 10.6% in 2012. Among 126 children from our institution, 91 cases (72%) were identified as palpable neck masses, and the remainder were discovered during imaging studies. The numbers in both groups gradually increased during the study period.


The incidence of childhood thyroid cancer has steadily increased in Korea. Regarding the detection methods of cancers, most tumors are detected by palpation rather than screening, although the rate of masses identified during screening has increased.

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