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Thyroid cancer

Overview Symptoms Treatment Prevention
Alternative Names:
Tumor - thyroid; Cancer - thyroid
Treatment:

Treatment varies depending on the type of tumor.

Surgery is usually the treatment of choice, with usually the entire thyroid gland removed. If the physician suspects that the cancer has spread to lymph nodes in the neck, these will also be removed during surgery.

Radiation therapy with radioactive iodine is often used with or without surgery. Radiation therapy with beam radiation can also be used.

After treatment, patients need to take thyroid hormone to replace what their glands used to make. The dose is usually a little higher than what the body needs, which helps keep the cancer from coming back.

If the cancer does not respond to surgery or radiation and has spread to other parts of the body, chemotherapy may be used, but this is only effective for about a third of patients.

Support Groups:
The stress of the illness can often be eased by joining a support group of people who share common experiences and problems. See cancer - support group.
Expectations (prognosis):
Anaplastic carcinoma has the worst prognosis (probable outcome). One variety of this cancer, the giant cell type, carries an expected life span of less than 6 months after diagnosis.

Follicular carcinomas are often fast growing and may invade other tissues, but the probable outcome is still good -- over 90% of patients are cured.

The outcome with medullary carcinoma varies. Women under 40 years old have a better chance of a good outcome. The cure rate is 40-50%.

Papillary carcinomas are usually slower growing. Most people are cured (over 95%) and have a normal life expectancy.
Complications:
  • Low calcium levels from inadvertent removal of the parathyroid glands during surgery
  • Injury to the voice box or nerve and hoarseness after surgery
  • Metastasis to the lung or other body tissues or organs
Calling your health care provider:
Call your health care provider if you notice a nodule or mass in your neck.

Also call if symptoms worsen during treatment.
Endocrine glands
Endocrine glands
Thyroid cancer - CT scan
Thyroid cancer - CT scan
Thyroid cancer - CT scan
Thyroid cancer - CT scan
Thyroid gland
Thyroid gland
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