Thyroid Cancer Coverage from Every Angle
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Effect of In Utero Exposure to Thyroid Cancer on Risk of Disease in Offspring

By: Joseph Fanelli
Posted: Friday, January 22, 2021

According to findings presented in The Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology, in utero exposure to thyroid cancer may have a long-term influence on the risk of disease in offspring. Tone Bjørge, MD, of the University of Bergen, Norway, and colleagues demonstrated that maternal benign thyroid conditions diagnosed before or during pregnancy might be strongly associated with thyroid cancer risk in offspring.

“Future studies should explore whether these findings are attributable to treatments received during pregnancy, fetal iodine deficiency, shared genetic susceptibility to thyroid disorders including autoimmune disease, enhanced medical surveillance, or other factors,” the authors concluded. “These findings were only evident in female offspring because of the small number of exposed male cases, and the findings were generally similar for thyroid cancers diagnosed before and after the age of 30 years.”

In this population-based nested case-control study, the authors used registry data from four Nordic countries to assess thyroid cancer risk in offspring in relation to maternal medical history, pregnancy complications, and birth characteristics. Each patient with thyroid cancer was matched with up to 10 individuals without thyroid cancer.

Of the 2,437 cases identified, 1,967 patients had papillary carcinomas, 1,880 were women, and 1,384 were diagnosed with thyroid cancer before the age of 30. The authors found that higher birth weight, congenital hypothyroidism and maternal diabetes before pregnancy, and postpartum hemorrhage were associated with an increased risk of thyroid cancer in offspring. Additionally, from Denmark's registry data, maternal hypothyroidism, hyperthyroidism, goiter, and benign thyroid neoplasms were also associated with a higher risk of thyroid cancer.

Disclosure: For full disclosure of the study authors, visit thelancet.com.

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