Risk Factors/Signs and Symptoms

Research is increasing regarding what we know about Thyroid Cancer. Scientists are learning more about its causes. Following are common risk factors for the disease:

Age/Sex - Thyroid Cancer affects most people over the age of 45. Patients diagnosed with Anaplastic Thyroid Cancer are normally past the age of 60. Women are more at risk for Thyroid Cancer than men.

Family History - Medullary Thyroid Cancer can run in families. A change in a gene called RET can be passed from parent to child. Nearly everyone with the changed RET gene develops Medullary Thyroid Cancer. Also, a family history of colon growths (goiters) are at risk for developing the disease.

Iodine - Iodine is a substance found in shellfish and iodized salt. Scientists are studying iodine as a possible risk factor for thyroid cancer. Too little iodine in the diet may increase the risk of Follicular Thyroid Cancer. However, other studies show that too much iodine in the diet may increase the risk of Papillary Thyroid Cancer.

Personal History - People with a goiter or benign thyroid nodules have an increased risk of Thyroid Cancer.

Radiation - People exposed to high levels of radiation are much more likely than others to develop Papillary or Follicular Thyroid Cancer. One important source of radiation exposure is treatment with x-rays.

Signs and Symptoms

Early thyroid cancer often does not have symptoms. As the cancer grows, symptoms may include:

Hoarseness or voice changes 

Lump in the front of the neck 

Pain in the throat or neck that does not go away 

Swollen lymph nodes in the neck 

Trouble swallowing or breathing

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