What're the risk factors for thyroid cancer?Radiation. This includes radiation you may have received as a treatment for acne or other childhood diseases as well as radiation from nuclear fallout. People living in the western United States may have been exposed to radioactive material from nuclear weapons tests during the 1950s or to discharges from the Hanford nuclear facility in Washington state between
1944 and 1955. Small amounts of radiation were also released during an accident at the Three Mile Island nuclear power plant in Pennsylvania in 1979.
Family history. Having a parent with MEN 2A, MEN 2B, or familial medullary cancer means you have a 50 percent chance of having the genetic mutation that causes these diseases. If you have one of these types of cancer yourself, your children also have a 50 percent chance of developing cancer. Your doctor or a genetic counselor can give you more information and answer any questions you may have regarding genetic screening and treatment.
Genetic conditions. About 1 in 10 people with a certain type of thyroid cancer called medullary thyroid cancer carry an abnormal gene. This condition is known as MEN2 syndrome. They may pass the gene on to the next generation. A family member with this genetic defect is at an increased risk of developing thyroid cancer.
Sex. For reasons that aren't clear, women are two to three times as likely as men to develop thyroid cancer.
Reproductive history. Women whose last pregnancy occurs at age 30 or later appear to be at higher risk of thyroid cancer than are women who have children earlier in life.
Age. Papillary and follicular thyroid cancers can develop at any age but become more common in young adulthood. Sporadic medullary thyroid cancer usually occurs in adults, but MEN 2 and familial medullary cancer can also affect children and infants.