Study Examines Family Connections for Thyroid Cancer Using Utah Population Database


People that have a first- through third -degree relative diagnosed with papillary thyroid cancer (PTC) have an increased risk of developing it themselves, according to a study by Gretchen M. Oakley M.D., of the University of Utah School of Medicine, Salt Lake City, and colleagues.

To define the family risk, researchers examined 4,460 patients diagnosed with PTC between 1966 and 2011 at a tertiary care facility in Utah, using the Utah Population Database to access medical records and the Utah Cancer registry.

According to study results, first-, second- and third-degree relatives of PTC study subjects had an increased risk of developing the cancer in comparison with population controls. Siblings of those diagnosed with PTC had the highest risk of developing the cancer (6.8-fold increased risk), followed by first-degree relatives of patients (5.4-fold increased risk), and second- and third-degree relatives (2.2-fold and 1.8-fold increased risk), respectively. There was no significant increased risk observed in spouses of PTC-diagnosed patients.

“These findings also indicate that family members of known PTC probands [patients used as genetic starting points for the study] will likely benefit from closer clinical attention, including collecting and maintaining a three-generation family history. Translational studies are needed to better define the genetic predisposition to familial PTC and development and implementation of optimal screening approaches” the study concludes.

(JAMA Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. Published online October 3, 2013. doi:10.1001/jamaoto.2013.4987.