Doctors aren't sure what causes most cases of thyroid cancer, so there's no way to prevent thyroid cancer in people who have an average risk of the disease.
Prevention for people with a high risk
Adults and children with an inherited gene mutation that increases the risk of medullary thyroid cancer are often advised to have thyroid surgery to prevent cancer (prophylactic thyroidectomy). Discuss your options with a genetic counselor who can explain your risk of thyroid cancer and your treatment options.
Prevention for people near nuclear power plants
Fallout from an accident at a nuclear power plant could cause thyroid cancer in people living nearby. If you live within 10 miles of a nuclear power plant in the United States, you may be eligible to receive a medication (potassium iodide) that blocks the effects of radiation on the thyroid. If an emergency were to occur, you and your family could take the potassium iodide tablets to help prevent thyroid cancer. Contact your state or local emergency management department for more information.
April 14, 2014
- Melmed S, et al. Williams Textbook of Endocrinology. 12th ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Saunders Elsevier; 2011. https://www.clinicalkey.com. Accessed Dec. 18, 2013.
- Thyroid carcinoma. Fort Washington, Pa.: National Comprehensive Cancer Network. http://www.nccn.org/professionals/physician_gls/f_guidelines.asp. Accessed Dec. 18, 2013.
- Revised American Thyroid Association management guidelines for patients with thyroid nodules and differentiated thyroid cancer. Falls Church, Va.: American Thyroid Association. http://thyroidguidelines.net/revised/taskforce. Accessed Dec. 18, 2013.
- Niederhuber JE, et al., eds. Abeloff's Clinical Oncology. 5th ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Churchill Livingstone Elsevier; 2014. http://www.clinicalkey.com. Accessed Dec. 18, 2013.
- What you need to know about thyroid cancer. National Cancer Institute. http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/wyntk/thyroid. Accessed Dec. 18, 2013.
- Guidelines for patients receiving radioiodine I-131 treatment. Society for Nuclear Medicine and Molecular Imaging. http://interactive.snm.org/index.cfm?PageID=11031. Accessed Dec. 24, 2013.
- Hay ID, et al. The coming of age of ultrasound-guided percutaneous ethanol ablation of selected neck nodal metastases in well-differentiated thyroid carcinoma. Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism. 2011;96:2717.
- Caprelsa (prescribing information). Wilmington, Del.: AstraZeneca Pharmaceuticals; 2013. http://www.caprelsa.com. Accessed Dec. 24, 2013.
- Cometriq (prescribing information). South San Francisco, Calif.: Exelixis Inc.; 2012. http://www.cometriq.com. Accessed Dec. 24, 2013.
- Frequently asked questions about potassium iodide. U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission. http://www.nrc.gov/about-nrc/emerg-preparedness/about-emerg-preparedness/potassium-iodide/ki-faq.html. Accessed Dec. 24, 2013.
- Brito JP, et al. Thyroid cancer: Zealous imaging has increased detection and treatment of low risk tumors. BMJ. 2013;347:f4706.
- Riggin EA. Decision Support System. Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. Sept. 24, 2013.
- Nippoldt TB (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. Jan. 5, 2014.
- Morris JC (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. Jan. 6, 2014.
- Nexavar (prescribing information). Whippany, N.J.: Bayer HealthCare Pharmaceuticals Inc.; 2013. http://www.nexavar-us.com. Accessed Jan. 8, 2014.
You Are ... The Campaign for Mayo Clinic
Mayo Clinic is a not-for-profit organization. Make a difference today.