First, you have to know how cancers, in general, develop. Cells, the basic unit of our body, have a life cycle. They grow and divide to form new cells. Old cells die. This process occurs according to our DNA, what contains the instructions that controls all the chemical processes in our body. Sometimes, something goes wrong and out of control when our DNA gets altered or damaged. Some old cells don’t die when they have to. These “undying” cells form a mass called a tumor which can be either benign or malignant.
Until now, doctors are not sure of the definite causes of thyroid cancer. No one knows precisely why some people develop this type of cancer and others do not. However, studies show that there are certain people who have an increased chance of developing thyroid cancer. Research comes up with risk factors, or the factors than can make a person more likely to develop this disease.
The older you are, the higher the risk of developing thyroid cancer. Most patients are above 30. Anaplastic thyroid cancer, the most fatal kind, usually occurs after 65.
Papillary and follicular thyroid cancers are more likely to occur in people who are exposed to high levels of radiation.
An alteration or change in a gene called RET can cause medullary thyroid cancer. The sad thing is that altered RET can be passed on from parent to child. If you have family history of thyroid cancer, talk to your doctor or consult a genetic counselor. Prevention is better than cure.
Women are more likely to develop this disease in a three-to-one ratio.
Iodine deficiency can also be associated with thyroid cancer. Remember to always keep your thyroid gland healthy with proper diet.
These risk factors are not absolute. Some thyroid cancer patients develop this disease even when they have none of these. Some people who have all these risk factors don’t have it. The best way to make sure is to visit your doctor for checkups regularly.
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