Is Thyroid Cancer Hereditary?

It isn’t clear what causes thyroid cancer. However, several factors can increase someone’s risk of developing it, one being a family history of thyroid cancer.  

There is no concrete information on the reason for people developing thyroid cancer. However, some risk factors may raise someone’s chances of getting it.

Genetic Changes 

Some individuals have a higher risk of developing thyroid cancer due to a change in an inherited gene. 

For example, there is a syndrome called MEN, meaning multiple endocrine neoplasia. Changes in the RET gene create MEN2A and MEN2B syndromes. These syndromes increase someone’s chances of developing thyroid cancer. Surgery to remove the thyroid gland is often the answer for those with MEN syndrome.

Even if not an inherited faulty gene, a person’s risk of developing thyroid cancer increases if a first-degree relative (mother, father, sister, brother, son, or daughter) has thyroid cancer. Since thyroid cancer is rare, this is a minor risk.

Other Factors 

Other factors that may raise the risk of getting thyroid cancer include:

  • Obesity 
  • A history of thyroid gland inflammation (thyroiditis)
  • An enlarged thyroid
  • Individuals who’ve had radiation
  • Individuals with systemic lupus erythematosus

Previous Cancer Treatment

Research shows that individuals who’ve been treated for certain cancers have a bigger risk of thyroid cancer. These include:

  • Esophageal cancer
  • Testicular cancer
  • Non-Hodgkin lymphoma
  • Breast cancer 

It isn’t known if this is because of the cancer treatment, inherited genes, or other risk factors. With esophageal cancer, checkups after receiving cancer treatment could be the way to detect thyroid cancers.


For reasons unknown, women are three times greater for developing thyroid cancer than men. Furthermore, women typically get thyroid cancer between the ages of 40 – 50 as opposed to men who usually develop it between the ages of 60 -70. 


Anyone at any age can get thyroid cancer. Though, studies show that 20- to 55-year-olds have the highest cases of thyroid cancer. For people over 60, they are usually diagnosed with anaplastic thyroid cancer, an aggressive and advanced form of thyroid cancer. Children 10 months and older typically get medullary thyroid cancer (MTC), a cancerous tumor that forms in the thyroid gland.

Low Iodine Diet

Thyroid cancer is common in places known for low iodine diets among their citizens. Likewise, diets high in iodine (salt) could raise the chance of developing thyroid cancer as well. 

Cowden Disease

Cowden disease is a rare disorder in which numerous non-cancerous tumors develop on the skin and in the mouth. Individuals with Cowden disease possess a high risk of getting thyroid cancer. Additionally, their chances of developing breast, uterus, and other cancers increase as well. 

Thyroid Treatment Delivered with Care At the Center of Functional Medicine, Dr. Harrison and his team will work with you to create a personalized thyroid treatment plan that fits your individual needs and goals. Are you suffering from issues with your thyroid in the Denver area? Book a complementary 15-minute discovery call with us today.