Thyroid Cancer Risk Factors: Age, Family History, etc.


Risk factors are the inherited or acquired factors that increase the chance of developing cancer in a person. Several epidemiological studies have suggested a number of genetic and environmental factors that may predispose to thyroid cancer. A knowledge about them helps us to make necessary lifestyle choices.

Following are the risk factors that can predispose to thyroid cancer.

Risk factors of Thyroid Cancer

  • Female gender: Thyroid cancer is 2 to 3 times more common in women. Reason for this gender disparity is unknown though.

  • Age: As with most other cancers, older age individuals remain at higher risk of developing thyroid cancer compared to young ones.

  • History of radiation exposure: Individuals with a history of radiation exposure to head and neck, especially at a younger age are at increased risk of developing thyroid cancer. The risk further increases with the increase in the radiation dose.

  • Dietary iodine intake: A diet with very high iodine content may increase the risk of papillary thyroid cancer whereas a diet deficient in iodine content may cause follicular thyroid cancer or other benign thyroid disorders like goiter. The risk of thyroid cancer further increases in the presence of other risk factors, such as radiation exposure.

  • Family history: Individual with a history of thyroid cancer in close relatives are considered to be at increased risk of developing thyroid cancer.

  • Genetic alterations: Many inherited genetic alterations have been reported to be associated with a high incidence rate of thyroid cancer, for example (e.g.), multiple endocrine neoplasia type 2 (MEN2), familial papillary thyroid cancer, familial polyposis coli, Gardner syndrome, and Cowden disease.

In the next section, you will read about the symptoms of thyroid cancer.

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