As with other diseases, age can be a factor or cause. Thyroid cancer occurs at any age, but middle-aged women (40 to 50 years) and elderly men (60 to 70 years) tend to be affected. Because women of this age are typically perimenopausal or menopausal, they may experience some thyroid problems. However, not all thyroid problems are due to cancer. If you experience any symptoms of a thyroid disorder, your doctor may recommend a series of tests in order to diagnose you.
Aside from being born female, radiation exposure is one of the major thyroid cancer causes. One reason the thyroid is very susceptible to radiation effects is because of its location. The thyroid gland sits in front of the neck, only covered by relatively thin layers of skin, muscle, and fat.
Generally, the earlier and longer a person is exposed to radiation, the greater the risk. This is why frequent x-rays and radiation therapies should not be done on pregnant women. Not only does radiation affect the mother, but it can also affect the unborn baby.
In the case of environmental exposure (e.g. nuclear fallout), doctors recommend that people living within 200 miles (320 kilometers) of nuclear accidents should take potassium iodide. Potassium iodide works by preventing the absorption of radioactive iodine in the thyroid, which reduces the risk of cancer development.
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