What are the risk factors for thyroid cancer?

  • Radiation exposure – especially in early childhood, increases the risk of developing thyroid cancer. This could be due to an all-nuclear fallout that occurs after a nuclear explosion, or radiation treatment for medical conditions/diseases when radiation risks were not properly understood (before the early 1960s).
  • Gender – three-quarters of all patients with thyroid cancer are female. This does not mean a woman will get thyroid cancer, which is a rare disease.
  • Some health conditions/diseases – people with the following conditions/diseases have a higher risk of developing thyroid cancer: Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, Cowden’s syndrome, thyroid adenoma and familial adenomatous polyposis.
  • Genetics – some inherited conditions increase the risk of developing medullary thyroid cancer. Approximately one quarter of individuals who develop medullary thyroid cancer have and abnormal gene.
  • Family history – individuals with a family history of goiter  (thyroid gland enlargement) have a higher risk of developing thyroid cancer.
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