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Cancer Health Center

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Thyroid Cancer - What Increases Your Risk

A risk factor for thyroid cancer is something that increases your chance of getting this cancer. Having one or more of these risk factors can make it more likely that you will get thyroid cancer. But it doesn't mean that you will definitely get it. And many people who get thyroid cancer don't have any of these risk factors.

The most common risk factors for thyroid cancer include:

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  • Age.
  • Being female.
  • Exposure to high levels of radiation, such as after a nuclear power accident.
  • 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).
  • Being Asian.
  • A history of radiation treatments to the head, neck, or chest during childhood.
  • Other inherited medical conditions, such as Gardner's syndrome and familial polyposis.

One rare type of thyroid cancer, which is called medullary thyroid cancer (MTC), runs in families. You can inherit a specific gene that increases your risk for MTC.

    WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

    Last Updated: November 14, 2014
    This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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