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Thyroid Cancer May Increase Breast Cancer Risk
Risk Is Highest in Premenopausal White Women
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by Mary J. Shomon

According to the Journal Cancer, an article titled "The development of breast carcinoma in women with thyroid carcinoma" reports that treatment for thyroid cancer may increase the risk for breast cancer later in life.

The study looked at 365 women who had both thyroid cancer and breast cancer, among which 113 were thyroid cancer that developed after breast cancer.

The researchers from the University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, Texas found that women with thyroid cancer had an 18% higher-than-average risk of developing breast cancer. Those at highest risk were pre-menopausal Caucasian women, who were 42% more likely than average to develop breast cancer, termed a "significantly increased risk" of developing subsequent breast cancer by researchers. Black women with thyroid cancer were not found to have a higher risk of breast cancer, but according to investigators, the numbers studied were very low and are not considered statistically conclusive.

These findings were supported by earlier research that linked an increased risk of breast cancer to earlier thyroid cancer treatment.

Breast cancer did not increase the risk of developing thyroid cancer.

What This Means for Thyroid Patients

Women who have had thyroid cancer treatment should pay particular attention to preventive factors for breast cancer, including diet, exercise, and healthy body weight. You should also incorporate regular screening - i.e., monthly breast self-exams, regular professional breast examinations, and mammograms and ultrasounds as required - into your health care. Be sure that your health care practitioners are also aware of your prior thyroid cancer treatment and the increased risk of breast cancer.

(Source: Cancer, Volume 92, Issue 2, 2001. Pages: 225-231)



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