Clinical Edge

Summaries of Must-Read Clinical Literature, Guidelines, and FDA Actions

TSH Levels and Papillary Thyroid Ca in Men, Women

Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev; 2017 Aug; Huang, et al

Both women and men were at increased risk of papillary thyroid cancer (PTC) depending on their thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) level, according to a nested case–control study involving nearly 1,500 individuals. TSH levels in men and women produced different outcomes. Participants either had PTC (n=741) or served as matched controls (n=741). Investigators measured TSH, total T3, total T4, and free T4. Among the results:

  • A median of ~1,450 days passed between blood draw and PTC diagnosis.
  • Women with normal or low TSH levels were nearly 4 times more likely than those with TSH levels in the middle tertile within normal range to develop PTC
  • Men with high TSH levels were nearly twice as likely to develop PTC.
  • Overall, PTC risk decreased with increasing TSH levels within the normal range.

The authors noted that the results could impact clinical decisions in patients with abnormal thyroid functions, as well as those with thyroidectomy.


Huang H, Rusiecki J, Zhao N, et al. Thyroid-stimulating hormone, thyroid hormones, and risk of papillary thyroid cancer: A nested case–control study. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 2017;26(8):1209-1218. doi:10.1158/1055-9965.EPI-16-0845.

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