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Cause of Thyroid Cancer

Having a Family History of Medullary Thyroid Cancer or Certain Other Conditions
Medullary thyroid cancer can be caused by a change, or alteration, in a gene called RET (rearranged during transfection). The altered RET gene can be passed from parent to child, and most people with the altered RET gene will develop medullary thyroid cancer. A blood test can be used to detect an altered RET gene. If the abnormal gene is found in a person with medullary thyroid cancer, the doctor may suggest that family members be tested as well. For those who carry the altered RET gene, doctors may recommend frequent lab tests or surgery to remove the thyroid before cancer develops. When medullary thyroid cancer runs in a family, the doctor may call this "familial medullary thyroid cancer" or "multiple endocrine neoplasia syndrome."
People with multiple endocrine neoplasia syndrome tend to develop other types of cancer, and a small number of people with a family history of goiter or certain precancerous polyps in the colon are at risk for developing papillary thyroid cancer.
Being Female
In the United States, women are two to three times more likely than men to develop thyroid cancer.
Being Over 40 Years of Age
Most patients with thyroid cancer are more than 40 years of age, and people with anaplastic thyroid cancer are usually more than 65 years of age.
Being Caucasian
In the United States, Caucasians are more likely than African Americans to be diagnosed with thyroid cancer.
Not Enough Iodine in the Diet
The thyroid needs iodine to make thyroid hormone. In the United States, iodine is added to salt to protect people from thyroid problems. Thyroid cancer seems to be less common in the United States than in countries where iodine is not part of the diet.
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Thyroid Cancer Information

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