Several thyroid cancer risk factors have been identified by researchers. Personal risk awareness is important because there are currently no approved or recommended screening tests for thyroid cancer. Therefore, the condition often goes undetected until symptoms like a lump or swollen area develop in the neck. With that said, the prognosis for thyroid cancer is usually very good when it is caught early and appropriately managed. This underscores the importance of learning about risk factors, being vigilant for symptoms and promptly reporting anything unusual to a physician.
Some factors believed to increase an individual’s risk of developing thyroid cancer include:
- Age – The condition is seen most often in people between the ages of 25 and 65.
- Gender – For unknown reasons, thyroid cancer occurs more commonly in women than in men.
- Genetics – People who have an enlarged thyroid (goiter) and/or a family history of thyroid disease have a heightened risk of developing thyroid cancer.
- Radiation exposure – Individuals who were exposed to radiation or received radiation treatments to the head and/or neck during childhood have a greater chance of developing thyroid cancer, which can occur as early as five years after exposure or as late as 20 or more years after exposure.
- Diet – A diet that is unhealthily low in iodine can contribute to the risk of thyroid cancer.
At Moffitt Cancer Center, our physicians provide advice and guidance about any aspect of thyroid cancer, including its prevention, diagnosis and treatment, and as a convenience, we do not require referrals. As a recognized leader in diagnosing and treating thyroid cancer, we provide our patients with access to a comprehensive array of options, including innovative clinical trials, all in one convenient location.