Risk of thyroid cancer in first-degree relatives of patients with non-medullary thyroid cancer by histology type and age at diagnosis: a joint study from five Nordic countries

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Background We aimed to estimate lifetime cumulative risk of thyroid cancer (CRTC) in first-degree relatives of patients with non-medullary thyroid cancers (NMTC), including papillary (PTC)/follicular/oxyphilic/anaplastic thyroid carcinoma, by histology and age at diagnosis in patients and their relatives. Design A population-based cohort of 63 495 first-degree relatives of 11 206 NMTC patients diagnosed in 1955-2009 in Nordic countries was followed for cancer incidence. Standardised incidence ratios (SIRs) were calculated using histology-specific, age-specific, sex-specific, period-specific and country-specific incidence rates as reference. Results The 0-84-year CRTC in female relatives of a patient with PTC was 2%, representing a threefold increase over the general population risk (SIR=2.9, 95% CI 2.4 to 3.4; Men: CRTC=1%, SIR=2.5, 95% CI 1.9 to 3.3). When there were >= 2 PTC patients diagnosed at age <60 years in a family, CRTC for female relatives was 10% (male 24%). Twins had a 23-fold increased risk of concordant PTC. Family history of follicular/oxyphilic/anaplastic carcinoma increased CRTC in relatives to about 1-2%. Although no familial case of concordant oxyphilic/anaplastic carcinoma was found, familial risks of discordant histology types of NMTC were interchangeably high for most of the types, for example, higher risk of PTC when a first-degree relative had follicular (SIR=3.0, 95% CI 1.7 to 4.9) or anaplastic (SIR=3.6, 95% CI 1.2 to 8.4) carcinoma. The earlier a patient was diagnosed with PTC in a family, the higher was the SIR in his/her younger relatives. There was a tendency towards concordant age at diagnosis of thyroid cancer among relatives of PTC patients. Conclusions This study provides clinically relevant risk estimates for family members of NMTC patients.


Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Medical Genetics
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)373-382
JournalJournal of Medical Genetics
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2013
Publication categoryResearch