Thyroid cancer: Introduction
Thyroid cancer is the most common type of endocrine cancer. Thyroid cancer occurs when there is an uncontrolled growth of cancer cells that form a malignant tumor in the thyroid. The thyroid is an endocrine organ or gland located in the anterior neck area. The thyroid produces a variety of hormones, including triiodothyronine and thyroxine, which regulate growth and energy production and stimulate body heat production, among other functions.
Normally, cells in the thyroid that are old or damaged will stop dividing and die before they can become cancerous. These cells are usually replaced by healthy young cells. Thyroid cancer occurs when old or damaged cells to continue to divide and multiply uncontrollably. Untreated and/or advanced thyroid cancer can grow and spread (metastasize) to other organs of the body such as the liver, lungs and brain, and eventually become terminal.
It is not known exactly why thyroid cancer occurs, but some cases of thyroid cancer may be linked to a family history of thyroid cancer and exposure of the thyroid gland to radiation. Other risk factors for developing thyroid cancer include being female and being over 40 years of age. However, thyroid cancer does occur in both sexes and all groups, including children.
Thyroid cancer is most curable if caught in the earliest stage of the disease. However, there are generally no symptoms in early stages of thyroid cancer. For more information about symptoms, refer to symptoms of thyroid cancer.
Diagnosing thyroid cancer and its stage of advancement begins with taking a thorough personal and family medical history, including symptoms and risk factors for thyroid cancer. Diagnosis also includes completing a physical examination. During the physical exam the physician or nurse practitioner will assess and feel (palpate) the throat for the presence of a lump or nodule on the thyroid. This could indicate thyroid cancer as well as a number of other conditions.
Definitive diagnostic testing requires a biopsy of the thyroid tumor. A biopsy involves taking a small sample of thyroid tissue to examine under a microscope for the presence of cancer cells. Thyroid cells are removed from the suspicious lump or nodule using a very small needle, called a needle aspiration. This is generally done as an outpatient procedure.
Other tests, especially imaging tests, may be done to help determine a diagnosis and to evaluate how far thyroid cancer has spread. Imaging tests can include ultrasound, CT, MRI, nuclear medicine scan, and X-ray.
A diagnosis of thyroid cancer can be missed or delayed because there are generally no symptoms in early stages of the disease. Additionally, some symptoms are similar to those of other conditions, such as hypothyroidism. For more information about misdiagnosis and diseases and disorders that can mimic thyroid cancer, refer to misdiagnosis of thyroid cancer.
Most types of thyroid cancer are highly treatable, even curable. However thyroid cancer has a tendency to recur in many cases.
Treatment of thyroid cancer varies, depending on the stage of advancement of the disease and other factors. For more information on treatment, refer to treatment of thyroid cancer. ...more »
Cancer of the thyroid gland. Types of thyroid cancer include papillary thyroid cancer, follicular thyroid cancer and medullary thyroid cancer. The thyroid is a hormone producing gland found in the neck. Over 20,000 new cases of this cancer are diagnosed each year in the US. Thyroid cancer is more common in females than males. ...more »
Thyroid cancer: Symptoms
Symptoms of thyroid cancer can vary among individuals. However, there are generally no symptoms in the early stage of thyroid cancer. When symptoms do appear, they can include an enlarged thyroid or the develoment of a lump of nodule in the thyroid, located in the front of the neck in the throat area. Other symptoms may include an ongoing cough, hoarse voice, ...more symptoms »
Thyroid cancer: Treatments
Most types of thyroid cancer are highly treatable and even curable. However, thyroid cancer has a high rate or recurring, which can happen many years after treatment. Thyroid cancer is most treatable and curable if caught in the earliest stage of the disease.
Treatment is individualized to the type and stage of advancement of the disease, a person's age, medical history, ...more treatments »
Thyroid cancer: Misdiagnosis
A diagnosis of thyroid cancer can be delayed or missed because there are often no symptoms, especially in the early stage of the disease. In addition, some symptoms of thyroid cancer can be similar to symptoms of other diseases, conditions and disorders. These include hypothyroidism, upper respiratory infection, cold, laryngitis, sore throat, ...more misdiagnosis »
Symptoms of Thyroid cancer
See full list of 13
symptoms of Thyroid cancer
Treatments for Thyroid cancer
- Total thyroidectomy
- Lobectomy (thyroid)
- Local lymph node removal
- Parathyroid gland removal - often removed with the thyroid
- more treatments...»
See full list of 12
treatments for Thyroid cancer
Home Diagnostic Testing
Home medical testing related to Thyroid cancer:
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Wrongly Diagnosed with Thyroid cancer?
Thyroid cancer: Related Patient Stories
Thyroid cancer: Deaths
Read more about Deaths and Thyroid cancer.
Alternative Treatments for Thyroid cancer
Alternative treatments or home remedies that have been listed in various sources as possibly beneficial for Thyroid cancer may include:
Types of Thyroid cancer
- Papillary thyroid cancer
- Follicular thyroid cancer
- Medullary thyroid cancer - only about 5-10% of cases
- Anaplastic thyroid cancer - only about 1-2% of cases; usually patients over 65.
- more types...»
Read more about Types of Thyroid cancer
Diagnostic Tests for Thyroid cancer
See full list of 15
diagnostic tests for Thyroid cancer
Thyroid cancer: Complications
Review possible medical complications related to Thyroid cancer:
Causes of Thyroid cancer
Read more about causes of Thyroid cancer
More information about causes of Thyroid cancer:
Disease Topics Related To Thyroid cancer
Research the causes of these diseases that are similar to, or related to, Thyroid cancer:
Thyroid cancer: Undiagnosed Conditions
Commonly undiagnosed diseases in related medical categories:
Misdiagnosis and Thyroid cancer
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Read more about Misdiagnosis and Thyroid cancer
Thyroid cancer: Research Doctors & Specialists
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- Diabetes & Endocrinology Specialists:
- Pregnancy & Fertility Health Specialists:
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- Cancer Specialists:
- Immune-Related Disease Specialists (Immunology):
- more specialists...»
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Hospitals & Clinics: Thyroid cancer
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Hospital & Clinic quality ratings »
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Thyroid cancer: Rare Types
Rare types of diseases and disorders in related medical categories:
Evidence Based Medicine Research for Thyroid cancer
Medical research articles related to Thyroid cancer include:
Click here to find more evidence-based articles on the TRIP Database
Prognosis for Thyroid cancer
Prognosis for Thyroid cancer:
Most thyroid cancers grow very slowly and can be
effectively treated. (Source: excerpt from Thyroid Disease: NWHIC)
More about prognosis of Thyroid cancer
Research about Thyroid cancer
Visit our research pages for current research about Thyroid cancer treatments.
Clinical Trials for Thyroid cancer
The US based website ClinicalTrials.gov lists information on both federally
and privately supported clinical trials using human volunteers.
Some of the clinical trials listed on ClinicalTrials.gov for Thyroid cancer include:
See full list of 39
Clinical Trials for Thyroid cancer
Prevention of Thyroid cancer
Prevention information for Thyroid cancer has been compiled from various data sources
and may be inaccurate or incomplete.
None of these methods guarantee prevention of Thyroid cancer.
- Avoid radiation
- Iodine supplements - if diet is deficient in iodine
- Salt with added iodine - commonly used in the USA
- Prophylactic thyroidectomy - rarely used except for familial inherited types.
- more preventions...»
Read more about prevention of Thyroid cancer
Statistics for Thyroid cancer
Thyroid cancer: Broader Related Topics
Types of Thyroid cancer
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