(HealthDay News) — First-degree, second-degree, and third-degree relatives of patients diagnosed with papillary thyroid cancer (PTC) are at significantly increased risk of developing the disease, according to research published online Oct. 3 in JAMA Otolaryngology-Head & Neck Surgery.

Gretchen M. Oakley, M.D., of the University of Utah in Salt Lake City, and colleagues retrospectively reviewed data for 1966 to 2011 from the Utah Population Database to assess the familial risk of PTC.

The researchers found that, compared with controls, relatives of PTC probands were at significantly increased risk of being diagnosed with the cancer, including first-degree relatives (5.4-fold), second-degree relatives (2.2-fold), and third-degree relatives (1.8-fold). Siblings of patients with PTC were at the highest risk of developing the cancer (odds ratio, 6.8), while spouses of probands were not at significantly increased risk.

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“Translational studies are needed to better define the genetic predisposition to familial papillary thyroid cancer and for the development and implementation of optimal screening approaches,” the authors write.

Related: Endocrine Cancers Resource Center