Women who survive breast cancer may have a higher-than-average risk of developing thyroid cancer in the next several years, a new study suggests.
The findings were scheduled to be presented at the annual meeting of The Endocrine Society, held in San Diego.
The findings are based on a government cancer-statistics database. The database includes 704,402 U.S. women diagnosed with breast cancer only, 49,663 with thyroid cancer only, and 1,526 who developed thyroid cancer after breast cancer.
The researchers found that the women had a higher-than-normal risk of developing thyroid cancer — particularly within five years of the breast cancer diagnosis.
The study’s lead author, Jennifer Hong Kuo, M.D., a surgeon at Columbia University Medical Center in New York City, told HealthDay that the increased risk of thyroid cancer was seen largely in relatively younger women.
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She estimated that for a 40-year-old woman with breast cancer, the likelihood of developing thyroid cancer in the next 10 years was 16 percent, and for a 50-year-old, the risk would be 12 percent.
Those rates are much higher than the norm for the average U.S. woman in that age range — which would be around 0.3 percent, according to the study.
The study results suggest that breast cancer survivors should have “vigilant screening” for thyroid cancer in the first five years after their diagnosis, Kuo said.
“At the very least, primary care providers could do a quick thyroid check.” Kuo said it might also be a good idea to do an ultrasound scan of the thyroid at least once.