Risks of papillary and follicular thyroid cancer among immigrants to Sweden

Seyed Mohsen Mousavi, Andreas Brandt, Jan Sundquist, Kari Hemminki

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Previous studies have indicated that ionizing radiation, particularly during childhood, is the main established risk factor for thyroid cancer. History of benign nodules/adenoma, goiter, iodine deficiency or high-iodine intake might be other associated factors. We wanted to define the histology-specific thyroid cancer risk in the first-generation immigrants to Sweden. We used the 2010 update of the nation-wide Swedish Family-Cancer Database (>12 million individuals; 1.8 million immigrants; histology code in force since 1958) to calculate standardized incidence ratios (SIRs) for histology-specific thyroid cancer among immigrants compared to the native Swedes. The patient series covered 2,604 male and 6,406 female Swedes, and 247 and 863 immigrants. The median age at immigration was 29 years, and the median age at thyroid cancer diagnosis was 46 years. Increased risks for female papillary carcinoma were observed for Finns (SIR = 1.63), former Yugoslavians (2.36), Russians (2.34), other East Europeans (2.14), Turks (3.16), Iranians (2.68), Iraqis (2.77), East and Southeast Asians (2.92), other Asians (1.69) and South Americans (2.23). Male Iranians (2.85), East and Southeast Asians (3.57) and other Asians (2.26) had an increased risk for papillary carcinoma. Only male East and Southeast Asians (2.93) had an increased risk for follicular carcinoma. The data might suggest that immigrant populations in Sweden from areas of low or high-iodine intake are at risk of papillary carcinoma, implicating iodine imbalance as a contributing factor to our findings. The increased risk of thyroid cancer among Asian immigrants may confirm the role of childhood-ionizing radiation on thyroid cancer risk.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2248-2255
Number of pages8
JournalInternational Journal of Cancer
Issue number9
StatePublished - 1 Nov 2011
Externally publishedYes


  • follicular carcinoma
  • iodine salt
  • papillary carcinoma
  • risk
  • thyroid cancer


Dive into the research topics of 'Risks of papillary and follicular thyroid cancer among immigrants to Sweden'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this