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Thyroid Cancer Causes

Cancer doctor performing a test on a patientThe exact causes of thyroid cancer are still being studied. Several genetic mutations have been conclusively linked to the disease, but researchers are still determining how these mutations cause healthy cells to become cancerous. Additionally, several non-genetic risk factors have been found to increase a person’s risk of developing the condition, although the exact correlations are still being investigated.

As with other cancers, thyroid cancer develops when a change in a cell’s DNA causes the cell to multiply at an unusually rapid rate. A thyroid tumor may grow into the lymph nodes, at which point it can spread through the lymphatic system to reach other areas of the body.

This process could potentially be triggered by several different factors. Possible causes include:

  • Cellular damage sustained as the result of repeated, high-dose radiation exposure
  • Cellular mutations that are inherited at birth
  • Overproduction of the body’s growth hormone due to a condition known as acromegaly

In addition to these causes, there are several additional risk factors that do not specifically cause thyroid cancer, but can increase a person’s risk of developing the disease. These include being obese, having diabetes, having a benign thyroid condition such as a goiter or thyroiditis, and having a family history of thyroid cancer.

Tampa General Hospital offers a variety of treatment services for individuals with thyroid cancer. If you have been diagnosed with thyroid cancer and would like to discuss your options with Tampa General Hospital’s specialists, use our PhysicianFinder tool or call (813) 844-2200.