Is There a Link Between Thyroid Cancer and Hyperthyroidism?

Thyroid cancer is linked to a variety of thyroid conditions, including toxic multinodular goiter, thyrotoxicosis caused by Graves’ disease, and autonomously functioning thyroid adenoma. But is there an association between thyroid cancer and hyperthyroidism?

In a new study, researchers examined and summarized the current evidence of the link between thyroid cancer and hyperthyroidism. In particular, they looked at the type of hyperthyroidism found in some patients and whether the type of hyperthyroidism impacted the patient’s outcome.

The research team published their findings online in February 2012 in the article “Thyroid cancer in patients with hyperthyroidism.” This article will appear in an upcoming issue of the journal Hormone and Metabolic Research.

Researchers conducted a PubMed search through August 2011. The articles used in their study were identified using a combination of these keywords and/or phrases:

  • anaplastic thyroid cancer
  • autonomous adenoma
  • follicular thyroid cancer
  • Graves’ disease
  • hyperthyroidism
  • medullary thyroid cancer
  • papillary thyroid cancer
  • thyroid cancer
  • toxic multinodular goiter
  • toxic thyroid nodule

The study included a mix of original research papers, case reports, and review articles.

What Researchers Learned about the Link Between Thyroid Cancer and Hyperthyroidism
After reviewing the data, the research team concluded that both the incidence and the prognosis of thyroid cancer linked to hyperthyroidism can be debated. In addition, they noted that it appears that Graves’ disease is linked with larger, multifocal, and potentially more aggressive thyroid cancer rather than multinodular toxic goiter or single hot nodules.

Researchers concluded that patients who have Graves’ disease and thyroid nodules are at a higher risk of developing thyroid cancer than patients who have diffuse goiter. However, they recommend that every suspicious thyroid nodule that’s linked to hyperthyroidism should be carefully evaluated.