Thyroid Cancer Risk Factors

Yumhee Park | Feb 3rd 2015 Sep 7th 2017

Reviewed by: Todd Gersten, MD

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Thyroid cancer is the ninth most common cancer in the U.S. with increasingly more cases each year. Thyroid cancer occurs when thyroid cells (the cells that produce thyroid hormones which help regulate the body’s metabolism and malfunctioning causes hypo or hyperthyroidism) become compromised with cancer. Could you be at risk?

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Radiation exposure

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If you were exposed to a certain amount of radiation as a child, you are at increased risk for thyroid cancer. X-ray treatments or radiation therapy to treat other diseases are some examples.

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Family history

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A history of thyroid cancer can spell trouble for your thyroid health. An abnormal RET oncogene can be passed from parent to child and may increase your risk for thyroid cancer. A family history of goiters as well as precancerous polyps in the colon may also raise your risk.

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Age

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Most people are diagnosed with thyroid cancer anywhere between the ages of 20 to 55, so if you fall within this age range in combination with another risk factor, ask your doctor to do some tests.

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Ethnicity

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While thyroid cancer can affect people of all ethnicities, statistically, it affects Caucasians and Asians the most.

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Gender

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Ladies, it’s time to start thinking more seriously about your thyroid. Women are two to three times more likely to get thyroid cancer than men. Be sure to ask your doctor for regular thyroid screenings if you feel you might be at risk.

NEXT: Could You Have Thyroid Problems?