Thyroid Cancer – What Increases Your Risk

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 acne and 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 to radiation.
* 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 cancer.
* Other inherited medical conditions, such as Gardner’s syndrome and familial polyposis.
* 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.
* Being Asian.
* 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 foods.

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