Hereditary Thyroid Cancer: Part 1

Source: Wikipedia

Source: Wikipedia

The bodily system that regulates our metabolism, growth and development, tissue function, sexual function, reproduction, sleep, and mood is called the endocrine system.  Glands that produce hormones and regulate these functions include:

  • Pineal gland
  • Pituitary gland
  • Thyroid
  • Thymus
  • Adrenal glands
  • Pancreas
  • Reproductive glands (ovaries and testes)

This article will focus on one endocrine gland- the thyroid and hereditary cancers that may be involved when an individual(s) develops thyroid cancer. When thyroid cancer or benign thyroid tumors/conditions occur, it is important to document them in your family history and to report them to your physician. This information can help your genetics team determine if genetic testing may be right for you/your family and also aids in interpreting your genetic test results correctly. 

The following list includes risk factors that increase the likelihood of a genetic predisposition.  When any 1 of these risks factors is present in your/your family history, consider a genetic consultation to learn more.

  • Medullary thyroid cancer at any age, even with no other history of cancer;
  • Thyroid cancer (non-medullary) AND one feature of Carney complex (as described in Table 3 of this paper) in the same person;
  • Thyroid cancer (non-medullary) AND two features Cowden (as described in Table 4 of this paper) in the same person;
  • Papillary thyroid cancer (cribriform-morular variant);
  • Anyone with a personal or family history of thyroid cancer in combination with two or more of the following cancers, especially diagnosed before age 50 or multiple cancers are seen in one person:
    • breast cancer, pancreatic cancer, prostate cancer (Gleason score ≥7), melanoma, sarcoma, adrenocortical carcinoma, brain tumors, leukemia, diffuse gastric cancer, colon cancer, endometrial cancer, thyroid cancer, kidney cancer, dermatologic manifestations and/or macrocephaly, hamartomatous polyps of gastrointestinal (GI) tract
  • A known family history of any of the hereditary cancer syndromes discuss in Part 2 of this post.