Survivors of thyroid cancer have a higher risk of developing age-associated diseases compared with patients who never had cancer, particularly if they were younger than 40 years at the time of diagnosis, a study published in Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention has shown.

Thyroid cancer is one of the most prevalent cancers among younger patients in the United States and typically has a favorable prognosis. As survival rates continue to improve, understanding the long-term implications of survivorship is needed to manage outcomes in this patient population.

For this study, researchers identified 3706 survivors of thyroid cancer diagnosed between 1997 and 2012 and matched them with up to 5 patients based on age, sex, and birth state from a pool of 15,587 cancer-free persons.

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Approximately 37% of survivors’ disease was diagnosed when they were younger than 40 years.

Younger survivors had an increased risk of developing multiple circulatory conditions compared with patients who were cancer-free. The risk of developing hypertension 1 to 5 years after diagnosis was significantly higher among survivors younger than 40 years at diagnosis (hazard ratio [HR], 2.03; 99% CI, 1.75-2.32) and older than 40 years (HR, 1.58; 99% CI, 1.48-1.68), compared with patients who were cancer free. Patients in both age groups had increased risk of developing heart disease 1 to 5 years after diagnosis (<40 years: HR, 1.76; 99% CI, 1.40-2.21; >40 years: HR, 1.29; 99% CI, 1.38-1.60).

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Survivors who were younger than 40 years had an overall increased risk of hypertension, cardiomyopathy, and nutritional deficiencies.

The results of the study demonstrate that survivors of thyroid cancer have an increased risk of aging-related disease. The authors concluded, “Future studies are needed to assess what can be done to reduce the increased risks of these long-term health effects.”


1. Blackburn BE, Ganz PA, Roe K, et al. Aging-related disease risks among young thyroid cancer survivors [published online November 22, 2017]. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. doi: 10.1158/1055-9965.EPI-17-0623