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7 states where more people get thyroid cancer

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Thyroid cancer is a cause of medical, disability, long-term care and death risk that seems to be becoming more common in the United States, and no one is sure why.

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The term “thyroid cancer” refers to a number of different types of cancer, including multiple types of papillary thyroid cancer, follicular thyroid cancer, anaplastic thyroid cancer and medullary thyroid cancer.

The rate of thyroid cancer increases in areas exposed to high levels of radiation. Scientists believe genetics, nonradioactive substances in the environment may also play a role.

The U.S. thyroid cancer rate might be increasing because of a change in the environment or population genetics, or the official rate might be increasing simply because doctors are doing a better job of noticing the condition and reporting it.

Whatever the reason, the median age-adjusted incidence of thyroid cancer rate for U.S. states increased to 14 cases per 100,000 people in 2012, from 6.7 cases per 100,000 people in 1999, according to U.S. Cancer Statistics, 1999-2012, a collection of data gathered by the U.S. Cancer Statistics Working Group.

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In 2012, the rate ranged from a low of 8.6 cases per 100,000 lives in Alabama to a high of more than 20 per 100,000 in two states.

In 1999, the earliest year for which comparable data is available in the same database, the range was 4.5 cases per 100,000 to 11.1 cases per 100,000.

For a look at the seven states with the highest incidence rates, and a table of data for all 50 states and the District of Columbia, read on:

Rhode Island

A dock in Newport, Rhode Island. (Photo: Thinkstock)

7. Rhode Island

Thyroid cancer incidence per 100,000 persons: 19.

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Sparta, New Jersey

A farm in northwestern New Jersey. (Photo: Allison Bell/LHP)

6. New Jersey

Thyroid cancer incidence per 100,000 persons: 19.2.

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A subway station entrance in New York City. (Photo: Allison Bell/LHP)

5. New York

Thyroid cancer incidence per 100,000 persons: 19.2.


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Stoney Creek, Connecticut

Stoney Creek, Connecticut. (Photo: Thinkstock)

4. Connecticut

Thyroid cancer incidence per 100,000 persons: 19.6.

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SLC -AP Photo/Peter Dejong

Salt Lake City. (Photo: Peter Dejong/AP)

3. Utah

Thyroid cancer incidence per 100,000 persons: 19.7.

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Harvard University’s campus in Cambridge, Massachusetts. (Photo: Thinkstock)

2. Massachusetts

Thyroid cancer incidence per 100,000 persons: 20.3.

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Dingmans Ferry, Pennsylvania

A stream in Child Park in Dingmans Ferry, Pennsylvania. (Photo: Allison Bell/LHP) 

1. Pennsylvania

Thyroid cancer incidence per 100,000 persons: 20.7.

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United States


U.S. Cancer Statistics thyroid cancer incidence data for 2012

This table includes the age-adjusted 2012 thyroid cancer rate for men and women per 100,000 people for all 50 states and the District of Columbia.

Alabama 8.6
Alaska 10.1
Arizona 16.1
Arkansas 9.8
California 12.8
Colorado 16.1
Connecticut 19.6
Delaware 14.6
District of Columbia 16
Florida 12.1
Georgia 11.2
Hawaii 16.6
Idaho 17
Illinois 15.2
Indiana 12
Iowa 12.8
Kansas 17.3
Kentucky 15.1
Louisiana 12.9
Maine 14.2
Maryland 16.2
Massachusetts 20.3
Michigan 13.2
Minnesota 13.2
Mississippi 10.1
Missouri 12
Montana 14
Nebraska 14.3
New Hampshire 18.4
New Jersey 19.2
New Mexico 15.1
New York 19.2
North Carolina 12.4
North Dakota 17.9
Ohio 13.8
Oklahoma 12.2
Oregon 12.8
Pennsylvania 20.7
Rhode Island 19
South Carolina 11.6
South Dakota 12.1
Tennessee 12.9
Texas 12.4
Utah 19.7
Vermont 15.3
Virginia 12.4
Washington 14.1
West Virginia 15.1
Wisconsin 13.7
Wyoming 12.2
Source: U.S. Cancer Statistics Working Group. United States Cancer Statistics: 1999–2012 Incidence and Mortality Web-based Report.


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