Medicaoncology Thyroid Cancer

What is Thyroid Cancer

Thyroid cancer develops in the cells of the thyroid, a butterfly-shaped gland located just below the Adam's apple at the base of your neck. Hormones made by your thyroid control your heart rate, blood pressure, body temperature, and weight. Thyroid cancer may not show any signs or symptoms at first. However, when it expands, it can cause neck pain and swelling. Thyroid cancer comes in a variety of forms. Some develop slowly, while others are quite aggressive. Thyroid cancer can usually be cured with medication.

Thyroid cancer appears to be on the rise. Some doctors believe this is because improved technology allows them to detect tiny thyroid tumors that were previously undetectable.

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    There are five main types of thyroid cancer. These are:

    Papillary Thyroid Cancer

    Thyroid cancer with papillary cells. Follicular cells give rise to papillary thyroid carcinoma, which grows slowly. Thyroid cancer of this sort is the most frequent. It usually only affects one lobe. Papillary thyroid carcinoma affects only 10% to 20% of people in both lobes. It’s a differentiated thyroid cancer, which means that under a microscope, the tumor looks like normal thyroid tissue. Thyroid cancer that has progressed to the lymph nodes is known as papillary thyroid carcinoma.

    Follicular Thyroid Cancer

    Follicular thyroid carcinoma is a type of thyroid cancer that arises from follicular cells and progresses slowly. Follicular thyroid cancer is a type of differentiated thyroid cancer similar to papillary thyroid cancer, however it is significantly less prevalent. Lymphoma is a rare complication of follicular thyroid carcinoma.

    Hurthle Cell Cancer

    Hurthle cell cancer, also known as Hurthle cell carcinoma, is a kind of cancer that starts from follicular cells. Hurthle cell tumors are twice more likely than other follicular thyroid tumors to metastasize to lymph nodes.

    Medullary Thyroid Cancer (MTC)

    MTC is a kind of cancer that arises in the C cells and is occasionally caused by a hereditary disease known as multiple endocrine neoplasia type 2. This tumor bears minimal resemblance to normal thyroid tissue, if any at all. If MTC is recognised and treated before it spreads to other parts of the body, it can frequently be controlled. MTC is responsible for around 3% of all thyroid malignancies. Familial MTC accounts for around a quarter of all MTC. This suggests that the patient’s family members are at risk of receiving a similar diagnosis. The RET proto-oncogene test (see Risk Factors) can be used to see if other family members have MTC (FMTC).

    Anaplastic Thyroid Cancer

    Thyroid cancer of this sort is extremely rare, accounting for only approximately 1% of all cases. It’s a type of thyroid cancer that grows quickly and is poorly differentiated. It can develop from differentiated thyroid cancer or a benign thyroid tumor. Giant cell thyroid cancers are subtypes of anaplastic thyroid cancer. This type of thyroid cancer is more difficult to cure because it grows so quickly.


    Early on in the course of thyroid cancer, there are usually no indications or symptoms. Thyroid cancer can lead to the following symptoms as it progresses:

    • A lump (nodule) on your neck that can be felt through the skin
    • Changes in your voice, such as a hoarseness increase
    • Swallowing problems
    • Neck and throat discomfort
    • Neck lymph nodes that are swollen
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    The cause of thyroid cancer is unknown.

    When cells in your thyroid undergo genetic alterations, thyroid cancer develops (mutations). The mutations allow the cells to reproduce and expand quickly. The cells also lose their ability to perish in the same way that regular cells do. The aberrant thyroid cells clump together to create a tumor. The aberrant cells might infect neighboring tissue and move to other parts of the body (metastasize).

    Other Risk Factors

    The following factors could increase a person’s risk of thyroid cancer:

    • Gender: Thyroid cancer affects three out of every four women.
    • Age: Thyroid cancer can strike anyone at any age, but it is most common in those between the ages of 20 and 55. Thyroid cancer that is anaplastic is frequently discovered beyond the age of 60. MTC can affect older children (10 months and up) and teenagers, especially if they have the RET proto-oncogene mutation (see below).
    • Family History: Thyroid cancer has been linked to heredity in some cases. The following are some important details concerning this disease, its genes, and its family history. Read this website’s page about undergoing genetic testing if you want to understand more about your personal genetic risk.
    • Radiation Exposure: Exposure to radiation. Radiation to the head and neck at modest levels may raise the incidence of papillary and follicular thyroid cancers.
    • Iodine-Deficient Diet: Normal thyroid function necessitates the use of iodine. Iodine is added to salt in the United States to help avoid thyroid issues.
    • Ethnicity: Thyroid cancer is more common in white and Asian people, but the disease can strike anyone of any color or ethnicity.
    • Breast Cancer: Breast cancer survivors may have an increased risk of thyroid cancer, according to a recent study, especially in the first five years after diagnosis and for those diagnosed at a younger age. Researchers are still looking into this discovery.

    The staging method for thyroid cancer is different depending on the type of tumor. And in case of papillary or follicular thyroid carcinoma, the stage of the cancer is determined by the patient’s age.


    Thyroid cancer can be discovered during a routine physical exam or other testing, or it might be discovered after a person visits a doctor because of symptoms. If your doctor suspects you have thyroid cancer, he or she will conduct one or more tests to confirm the diagnosis. If cancer is discovered, more tests may be performed to learn more about the cancer.

    Not every person will be subjected to all of the tests outlined here. When choosing a diagnostic test, your doctor may take into account the following factors:

    • The cancer kind that has been suspected
    • Describe your indications and symptoms.
    • Your age and overall well-being
    • The outcomes of previous medical tests

    Thyroid cancer can be diagnosed using the following tests:

    • Blood Tests: Several types of blood tests may be performed throughout the diagnosis process as well as to monitor the patient during and after treatment. Tumor marker tests are one type of test in this category.
    • Ultrasound: An ultrasound creates a picture of the interior organs by using sound waves. The skin of the neck is guided by an ultrasonic wand or probe. High-frequency sound waves produce an echoes pattern that shows the doctor the size of the thyroid gland as well as detailed information about any nodules, such as whether they are solid or a fluid-filled sac called a cyst.
    • Biopsy: A fine-needle aspiration biopsy involves your doctor inserting a long, thin needle into the thyroid nodule via your skin. Ultrasound imaging is commonly utilised to guide the needle into the nodule with precision. The needle is used by your doctor to extract samples of abnormal thyroid tissue. In the laboratory, the sample is examined for cancer cells.
    • Imaging Tests: X-rays, CT scan, MRI scan, PET scan, ultrasound, angiography are some of the imaging tests prescribed to diagnose the cancer.
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    In many circumstances, a group of doctors collaborates to develop a patient’s overall treatment plan, which may include a variety of treatments. A multidisciplinary team is what this is referred to as. A surgeon, medical oncologist, radiation oncologist, radiologist, nuclear medicine physician, and endocrinologist may be part of the thyroid cancer treatment team. Physician assistants, nurse practitioners, oncology nurses, social workers, pharmacists, counselors, nutritionists, speech therapists, and other health care professionals are all part of cancer care teams.

    Thyroid cancer is usually treated with one or more therapies. The most prevalent types of thyroid cancer therapies are mentioned below, followed by a breakdown of cancer treatments by stage of disease.

    Surgery: Thyroid cancer is almost always treated with surgery to remove the thyroid. The type of thyroid cancer, the size of the tumor, whether the cancer has progressed beyond the thyroid, and the results of an ultrasound inspection of the entire thyroid gland will all influence the operation your doctor recommends.

    During surgery, the tumor and some surrounding healthy tissue, known as a margin, are removed. A resection is another term for surgery. The majority of persons with thyroid cancer receive it as their primary treatment. A surgical oncologist is a physician who specializes in the surgical treatment of cancer. Surgical treatment for thyroid nodules vary depending on their size. Thyroidectomy, lobectomy and near-total thyroidectomy are some of the surgical procedures used.

    Hormone Therapy: You will have to take the thyroid hormone drugs for the rest of your life if you have a thyroidectomy. This drug has two advantages it replaces the hormone that your thyroid would usually generate and it prevents your pituitary gland from producing thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH). High TSH levels could potentially promote the growth of any residual cancer cells.

    Radioactive Iodine: Large doses of a radioactive type of iodine are used in radioactive iodine treatment. After a thyroidectomy, radioactive iodine treatment is commonly used to eliminate any remaining healthy thyroid tissue as well as microscopic patches of thyroid cancer that were not removed during surgery. Thyroid cancer that recurs after therapy or spreads to other parts of the body can also be treated with radioactive iodine.

    Radiation Therapy: External radiation therapy is delivered by a machine that directs high-energy beams, such as X-rays and protons, at specific areas on your body (external beam radiation therapy). You lie still on a table while a machine travels around you during therapy.

    Chemotherapy: Chemotherapy is rarely used to treat thyroid cancer, but it is occasionally indicated for persons with anaplastic thyroid cancer. Chemotherapy and radiation therapy can be used together.

    Targeted Therapy: Targeted medication treatments are designed to target specific abnormalities found in cancer cells. Targeted medication treatments can kill cancer cells by inhibiting these aberrations. Thyroid cancer drug therapy that targets the signals that tell cancer cells to grow and divide is called targeted therapy. It’s most commonly used to treat advanced thyroid cancer.

    Palliative Care: Palliative care can be used in conjunction with other aggressive treatments such surgery, chemotherapy, or radiation. It’s becoming more common to offer it early in the course of cancer treatment.


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