Thyroid cancer is cancer of the thyroid gland. This gland makes thyroid hormone. It is found in the front of the neck. Thyroid gland tumors often appear as bumps in the neck, called nodules. In most cases, thyroid nodules are not cancerous. Those that are cancerous have the potential to spread throughout the body.
There are several types of thyroid cancer, including:
Papillary carcinoma—most common type
It usually grows very slowly, and often spreads to lymph nodes in the neck. If caught early, this type of thyroid cancer is often curable.
Follicular carcinoma—second most common type
It usually stays in the thyroid gland but can spread to other parts of the body, such as the lungs and bones. It does not usually spread to the lymph nodes. If caught early, this type of thyroid cancer is often curable.
Anaplastic carcinoma—rare form of thyroid cancer
It quickly invades the neck and other parts of the body, and is often fatal.
Medullary thyroid carcinoma (MTC)—cancer that develops from cells in the thyroid gland called C-cells
It often spreads to the lymph nodes, lungs, or liver before a thyroid nodule has been discovered. There are two types of MTC:
Depending on how much of the thyroid gland is removed, you may need to take thyroid hormone pills after surgery.
Radioactive Iodine Therapy
This uses large doses of radioactive iodine to destroy the thyroid gland and thyroid cancer without affecting the rest of the body. This treatment is used to destroy thyroid tissue not removed by surgery and to treat thyroid cancer that has spread to lymph nodes and other parts of the body.
This is the use of drugs to kill cancer cells. Chemotherapy may be given in many forms including: pill, injection, and via a catheter. The drugs enter the bloodstream and travel through the body killing mostly cancer cells, but also some healthy cells. Chemotherapy to treat thyroid cancer is still investigational. Chemotherapy has not been shown to effectively control or kill thyroid cancer.
If you are diagnosed with thyroid cancer, follow your doctor's
Because the exact cause of thyroid cancer is unknown, finding it early and treating it is the best way to prevent dying from the disease:
Aged 20-39, have a thyroid exam every three years.
Aged 40 or older, have a thyroid exam every year.
Exposure to radiation is a major risk factor for thyroid cancer, therefore:
Avoid unnecessary exposure to radiation.
If you have been exposed to radiation of the head, neck, or chest, particularly as a child, have frequent checks for thyroid cancer.
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care
provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a
substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER
IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the
advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to
starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a