Thyroid Cancer and Genetics: Understanding Inherited Risk Factors

Thyroid Cancer

and Health

Thyroid cancer affects thousands of people every year, and is the most common type of endocrine, hormone-related cancers. Genetics plays an important role in the risk of developing the condition, and understanding the inherited risk factors can help people take a proactive approach to their health.

What Causes Thyroid Cancer?

The exact cause of thyroid cancer is difficult to determine, but certain genetic mutations can be associated with an increased risk. Such mutations are often passed down from parent to child, and can include a variety of gene mutations such as RET/PTC and BRAF.

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Who is at Risk for Thyroid Cancer?

There are a variety of risk factors that can increase a person’s chances of developing thyroid cancer. These include:

  • Family history – If a close relative has been diagnosed with thyroid cancer, the individual is at an increased risk of developing the same condition.
  • Age – Most cases of thyroid cancer occur in individuals between 20 and 60 years of age.
  • Gender – Women are more likely to be diagnosed with thyroid cancer than men.
  • Race – Caucasians are more likely to be diagnosed with the condition than individuals of other races.
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Preventing Thyroid Cancer with Genetics

Early detection and screening are key in preventing many types of cancers, including thyroid cancer. Genetic testing can help identify individuals with an increased risk of developing the condition, allowing them to take preemptive measures such as increased screening to catch the disease early.

A genetic counselor can help identify gene mutations associated with an increased thyroid cancer risk, and recommend possible courses of action for reducing the risk of developing the condition.

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Take Control of Your Health

Understanding the inherited risk factors of thyroid cancer and taking a proactive approach to health can make all the difference in the early detection and successful treatment of this serious condition. Working with a doctor and a genetic counselor can help provide the best plan for achieving optimum health.

If you have a close family member with a history of thyroid cancer, make sure to speak to your doctor about scheduling a genetic test and discussing preventive options available that can help you take control of your health.