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Your thyroid is a butterfly-shaped gland in your neck, just above your collarbone. It makes hormones that help the body work normally. There are several types of cancer of the thyroid gland. You are at greater risk if you

  • Are between ages 25 and 65
  • Are a woman
  • Are Asian
  • Have a family member who has had thyroid disease
  • Have had radiation treatments to your head or neck

You should see a doctor if you have a lump or swelling in your neck. Doctors use a physical exam, thyroid tests, other blood and imaging tests, and a biopsy to diagnose thyroid cancer. Treatment depends on the type of cancer you have and how far the cancer has spread. Many patients receive a combination of treatments. They may include surgery, radioactive iodine, hormone treatment, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, or targeted therapy. Targeted therapy uses substances that attack cancer cells without harming normal cells.

NIH: National Cancer Institute

Symptoms of Thyroid Cancer

The following features are indicative of Thyroid Cancer:
  • lump that can be felt through the skin on neck
  • voice changes
  • increasing hoarseness
  • difficulty swallowing
  • pain in neck and throat
  • swollen lymph nodes in neck
It is possible that Thyroid Cancer shows no physical symptoms and still be present in a patient.

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Common Causes of Thyroid Cancer

The following are the most common causes of Thyroid Cancer:
  • DNA mutations

Other Causes of Thyroid Cancer

The following are the less common causes of Thyroid Cancer:
  • exposure to radiation therapy while cancer treatment
  • radiation exposure from nuclear plant disasters
  • hyperthyroidism
  • thyroid surgery
  • pregnancy
  • iodine deficiency

Risk Factors for Thyroid Cancer

The following factors may increase the likelihood of Thyroid Cancer:
  • being female
  • exposure to high levels of radiation
  • familial medullary thyroid cancer
  • multiple endocrine neoplasia

Prevention of Thyroid Cancer

Yes, it may be possible to prevent Thyroid Cancer. Prevention may be possible by doing the following:
  • removing all or most of the thyroid
  • take medication like potassium iodide if living near nuclear power plants

Occurrence of Thyroid Cancer

Number of Cases

The following are the number of Thyroid Cancer cases seen each year worldwide:
  • Rare between 10K - 50K cases

Common Age Group

Thyroid Cancer most commonly occurs in the following age group:
  • Aged between 20-50 years

Common Gender

Thyroid Cancer can occur in any gender.

Lab Tests and Procedures for Diagnosis of Thyroid Cancer

The following lab tests and procedures are used to detect Thyroid Cancer:
  • Physical exam: To look for physical changes in thyroid
  • Blood tests: To determine if the thyroid gland is functioning normally
  • Thyroid tissue biopsy: To look for cancer cells
  • Imaging tests: To help determine whether cancer has spread beyond the thyroid
  • Genetic testing: To look for genes that increase risk of cancer

Doctor for Diagnosis of Thyroid Cancer

Patients should visit the following specialists if they have symptoms of Thyroid Cancer:
  • Oncologist

Complications of Thyroid Cancer if untreated

Yes, Thyroid Cancer causes complications if it is not treated. Below is the list of complications and problems that may arise if Thyroid Cancer is left untreated:
  • recurrence of thyroid cancer
  • lymph nodes in the neck
  • small pieces of thyroid tissue

Procedures for Treatment of Thyroid Cancer

The following procedures are used to treat Thyroid Cancer:
  • Surgery: To remove all or most of the thyroid and lymph nodes in neck
  • Thyroid hormone therapy: To suppress the production of thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) from pituitary gland
  • External radiation therapy: To reduce the risk of cancer recurrence
  • Chemotherapy: To kill the cancer cells

Self-care for Thyroid Cancer

The following self-care actions or lifestyle changes may help in the treatment or management of Thyroid Cancer:
  • Maintain healthy diet: Helps keeping body healthy
  • Get enough sleep: Helps feeling rested
  • Regular physical activity: Helps keeping body healthy

Patient Support for Treatment of Thyroid Cancer

The following actions may help Thyroid Cancer patients:
  • Connect with other thyroid cancer survivors: Provides comfort in talking with people in same situation

Last updated date

This page was last updated on 2/04/2019.
This page provides information for Thyroid Cancer.

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