Income differences in screening, incidence, postoperative complications, and mortality of thyroid cancer in South Korea: a national population-based time trend study

Hee Yeon Kang, Ikhan Kim, Yeon Yong Kim, Jinwook Bahk, Young Ho Khang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Background: The incidence of thyroid cancer (TC) has increased rapidly over the past few decades in Korea. This study investigated whether the TC epidemic has been driven by overdiagnosis. Methods: We calculated the TC screening rate from mid-2008 through mid-2014, and the incidence, postoperative complication, and mortality rates of TC between 2006 and 2015, using data from the Korea Community Health Survey, the National Health Insurance Database, and the cause-of-death data of Statistics Korea. Trends in age-standardized rates of all indicators were examined, along with income gaps therein. Analyses were conducted for lung cancer and stroke as negative control outcomes. Results: The incidence rate of TC increased from 46.6 per 100,000 to 115.0 per 100,000 between 2006 and 2012, and then decreased to 63.5 per 100,000 in 2015. Despite these remarkable changes in incidence, mortality did not fluctuate during the same period. High income was associated with high rates of screening, incidence, and postoperative complications, while low income showed an association with a high mortality rate. Analyses using negative control outcomes showed that high income was associated with low rates of both incidence and mortality, which contrasted with the patterns of TC. The recent decreases in TC incidence and postoperative complications, which reflect societal concerns about the overdiagnosis of TC, were more pronounced in high-income individuals than in low-income individuals. Conclusions: The time trends in income gaps in screening, incidence, postoperative complications, and mortality of TC, as well as negative control outcomes, provided corroborating evidence of TC overdiagnosis in Korea.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1096
JournalBMC Cancer
Volume20
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 2020

Keywords

  • Incidence
  • Income
  • Medical overuse
  • Overdiagnosis
  • Postoperative complication
  • Thyroid cancer

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