Risk factors for
thyroid cancer include:
- A history of
radiation treatments to the head, neck, or chest
during childhood. Years ago, radiation was used to treat problems such as
fungal scalp infections and to shrink the
tonsils and adenoids. Radiation exposure in adulthood
does not carry the same risk.
- Exposure to high levels of radiation,
such as occurred after the Chernobyl nuclear power accident in 1986. The risk
is increased most for those who were younger than age 15 when they were exposed
- A personal or family history of thyroid disease or thyroid cancer.
- A family history of conditions such as MEN (multiple endocrine neoplasia) 2a, MEN 2b,
or FMTC (familial medullary thyroid carcinoma). These are caused by abnormal
genes that greatly increase the risk of getting the medullary form of thyroid
- Other inherited medical conditions,
Gardner's syndrome and
- Age. Most cases of
thyroid cancer are diagnosed in people who are between the ages of 25 and 65,
although it can develop at any age.
- Being female. Thyroid cancer
occurs more frequently in women than it does in men.
- A diet that is too low in iodine. This is not generally a problem
in the United States and Canada, because iodine is added to salt and other
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