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Thyroid Cancer Causes, Risk Factors, and Prevention

The thyroid cancer team at Banner MD Anderson Cancer Center is here to support you on your cancer journey. Learn more about potential risk factors and how to reduce your chance of developing thyroid cancer. 

What Causes Thyroid Cancer? 

The main cause of thyroid cancer is largely unknown, but age, family history, radiation exposure and heredity play a part during diagnosis. 

Thyroid Cancer Risk Factors

Although some types of thyroid cancer have different risk factors, established factors for thyroid cancer include:

  • Age: Women in their 40s and 50s and men in their 60s and 70s are more likely to be diagnosed with thyroid cancer
  • Gender: Women are three times more likely to be diagnosed with thyroid cancer than men
  • Radiation exposure: Repeated x-ray exposure at high levels of radiation can cause thyroid cancer
  • Family history and genetics: Hereditary conditions, such as familial adenomatous polyposis or Cowden disease, can be risk factors for thyroid cancer

No common behavioral risk factors for thyroid cancer have been identified at this time. If you are concerned about inherited family syndromes that cause thyroid cancer, we offer advanced genetic testing to let you know your risk.

How to Prevent Thyroid Cancer

Most patients are unaware of the symptoms or risk factors associated with thyroid cancer, making it difficult to prevent. Screening or testing for thyroid cancer is always an option. When possible stay away from high radiation such as nuclear power plants or x-rays using high radiation.

Consider genetic testing to find out if thyroid cancer runs in your family. Testing can also detect gene mutations that can be treated and cured if found early on. Learn more about genetic counseling and testing from Banner MD Anderson for thyroid cancer prevention.

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