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Papillary Thyroid Cancer Risk Factors

What Increases Your Chances of Developing this Disease?

Though the cause of papillary thyroid cancer (also known as papillary thyroid carcinoma) is unknown, there are risk factors that may raise your risk of developing the disease.

There are 4 main types of thyroid cancer, with papillary thyroid cancer being the most common. Having any of the risk factors listed below may increase the likelihood that you will develop any form of thyroid cancer, including papillary thyroid cancer:

  • A family history of thyroid cancer
  • A personal or family history of goiters
  • Whole-body radiation for bone marrow treatment
  • Exposure to high levels of radiation caused by nuclear accidents or weapons testing
  • Having a personal or family history of certain genetic syndromes, such as Cowden syndrome (a disorder characterized by benign, tumor-like growths on the skin and mucous membranes called hamartomas)

Though the primary risk factors for thyroid cancer generally span across the 4 types, some are unique to papillary thyroid cancer. First, papillary thyroid cancer is more common in women than in men. So being a woman is considered a risk factor.

Also, people under the age of 50 are more likely to develop papillary thyroid cancer, with people aged 30 to 50 at the highest risk. That, however, doesn't mean older adults can't develop the disease. In fact, adults over the age of 50 tend to have more aggressive forms of papillary thyroid cancer, though they have a lower chance of developing it.

Papillary thyroid cancer is very curable—especially if you are diagnosed early. That's why it's important to talk to your doctor if you have any of these risk factors. People who are at a higher risk for developing papillary thyroid carcinoma should be regularly checked for suspicious thyroid nodules.

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