Jennifer Hellwig, MS, RD
Thyroid cancer is cancer of the thyroid gland. This gland makes thyroid hormone, and 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. However, those that are cancerous have the potential to spread throughout the body.
There are several types of thyroid cancer, including:
The cause is unknown.
Factors that may increase the risk of thyroid cancer include:
Symptoms may include:
The doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will also be done. This may include a careful examination of your neck to look for lumps or abnormalities.
Your doctor may order tests, such as:
Once thyroid cancer is found, staging tests are done to find out if the cancer has spread. Treatment depends on the stage of the cancer.
Examples of treatment options include:
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. Your doctor may recommend screening tests for you, for example:
exposure to radiation is a major risk factor for thyroid cancer, you should:
American Cancer Society
Canadian Cancer Society
Thyroid Foundation of Canada
General information about thyroid cancer. National Cancer Institute website. Available at:
http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/pdq/treatment/thyroid/patient. Accessed September 17, 2012.
Papillary thyroid cancer. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at:
http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed/. Updated August 13, 2012. Accessed September 17, 2012.
Thyroid cancer. American Cancer Society website. Available at:
http://www.cancer.org/Cancer/ThyroidCancer/DetailedGuide/index. Accessed September 17, 2012.
Last reviewed October 2012 by Igor Puzanov, MD
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 medical condition.
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