Association between benign thyroid and endocrine disorders and subsequent risk of thyroid cancer among 4.5 million U.S. male veterans

J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2012 Aug;97(8):2661-9. doi: 10.1210/jc.2011-2996. Epub 2012 May 8.


Context: Risk factors for thyroid cancer (TC) in males are poorly understood. OBJECTIVES, SETTING, AND PARTICIPANTS: Our aim was to evaluate the relationship between history of benign thyroid and endocrine disorders and risk of TC among 4.5 million male veterans admitted to U.S. Veterans Affairs hospitals between July 1, 1969, and September 30, 1996.

Design: We conducted a retrospective cohort study based on hospital discharge records with 1053 cases of TC.

Main outcome measures: We estimated relative risks (RR) and computed 95% confidence intervals (CI) for TC using time-dependent Poisson regression models. To evaluate potential ascertainment bias and/or delayed diagnosis of TC, we also analyzed RR by time between diagnosis of benign disorder and TC (<5 or ≥ 5 yr).

Results: RR for TC were significantly elevated with many disorders and were often higher less than 5 yr compared with 5 yr or more before TC diagnosis. RR (95% CI) less than 5 yr/at least 5 yr were 67.9 (42.4-108.8)/28.9 (9.2-90.2) for thyroid adenoma, 77.8 (64.5-93.1)/25.9 (17.9-38.0) for nontoxic nodular goiter, 23.9 (13.8-41.3)/12.9 (4.8-34.4) for thyroiditis, 8.8 (6.9-11.3)/6.0 (3.8-9.6) for hypothyroidism, 6.4 (4.4-9.4)/ 2.0 (0.8-4.8) for thyrotoxicosis, and 1.2 (1.0-1.4)/1.1 (0.9-1.5) for diabetes. For some disorders, RR also significantly varied by attained age and race with younger patients and Blacks having higher RR than older patients and Whites.

Conclusions: We found strong associations for a history of thyroid adenoma, nodular goiter, thyroiditis, or hypothyroidism with TC in males allowing for increased surveillance/delayed diagnosis and evidence that some of these associations are modified by age and race.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Intramural

MeSH terms

  • Cohort Studies
  • Endocrine System Diseases / complications*
  • Goiter, Nodular / complications
  • Humans
  • Hypothyroidism / complications
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Poisson Distribution
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Risk
  • Thyroid Diseases / complications*
  • Thyroid Diseases / pathology
  • Thyroid Neoplasms / etiology*
  • Thyroiditis / complications
  • Veterans*