(CNN) -Thyroid cancer is the most common cancer of the endocrine glands and is the fastest rising cancer in women and second in men in the U.S.
Cleveland Clinic's Dr. Charis Eng recently conducted a study, discovering a new gene that may shed some light on what causes thyroid cancer for some people.
"This gene, when both pairs are mutated or altered, leads to a very rare anemia called CDA-2. So, we were stunned when we saw that this anemia gene was altered and pre-disposed as a thyroid cancer," Dr. Eng explained.
Dr. Eng says what makes this gene unique is its function. In previous studies where it has been linked to anemia, the gene's function is lost. However, as Dr. Eng discovered, when normal thyroid cells expressed this mutated gene, they grew faster and invaded more aggressively, which are signature characteristics of cancer.
Dr. Eng and her research team are excited because the discovery gives genetics professionals more to work with when seeking molecular diagnosis and conducting predictive genetic testing, which can lead to more precise treatment.
"So, we have a molecular diagnosis, as we study it we will be able to do gene-based genetic counseling on it. We definitely will be able to do predictive testing of the unaffected relatives and after more research we should be able to tailor treatment and how we look after these patients," Dr. Eng said.
Dr. Eng encourages people who have a family history of thyroid cancer to visit their doctor and ask about seeing a genetics professional.