Thyroid cancer is an abnormal growth in the thyroid gland, a butterfly-shaped organ in the lower front of the neck. It's about three times more common in women than in men.
Most thyroid cancers are slow-growing and respond well to treatment.
Thyroid cancer treatment often involves surgery to remove all or part of the thyroid.
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Doctors define thyroid cancer as a disease of the thyroid gland. It happens when cells in the thyroid tissue grow out of control and become cancerous.
The thyroid is a crucial body part. It makes hormones that affect nearly every organ.
These hormones control:
Nodules on your thyroid are common, but cancer of the thyroid is not. Only about one in 10 nodules are cancerous.
Doctors diagnose about 44,000 people in the U.S. with thyroid cancer each year (compared to 280,000 with breast cancer).
Survival from thyroid cancer is very high. About 2,000 people die from thyroid cancer yearly.
Early detection is key to recovering from thyroid cancer.
Most thyroid cancer types grow slowly. Doctors can treat them successfully if found early.
There are four main types of thyroid cancer.
In most cases, doctors don't know what causes thyroid cancer.
But some factors increase the risk of getting it.
Certain environmental and genetic factors make you more likely to get thyroid cancer.
You're at greater risk for thyroid cancer if you:
Thyroid cancer can lead to other problems, such as:
Since doctors don't always know what causes thyroid cancer, you can't prevent most cases.Back to top
Thyroid cancer symptoms in females and males are very much alike.
Women tend to get thyroid cancer in middle age, while men get it more often in their 60s or 70s.
You may not notice thyroid cancer symptoms, especially in the early stages.
Your doctor may find a lump during a routine exam or on imaging test results for an unrelated health issue.
It's vital to see your doctor right away if you notice a lump on your throat.
Signs and symptoms of thyroid cancer may include:
During a yearly physical exam, your doctor should check your neck for thyroid cancer signs. They will look for any swelling or lumps.
If your doctor suspects thyroid cancer, they may order one or more of these tests:
Doctors don't use blood tests to find thyroid cancer. But blood tests can help show if your thyroid is working well. They can also help monitor thyroid cancer.Back to top
The experts at UPMC bring a team approach to treating thyroid cancer.
We tailor treatment to your exact needs using high-tech imaging and cutting-edge surgical techniques. We also offer access to clinical trials for thyroid issues.
Treatment depends on what type of thyroid cancer you have and whether it's spread to other organs.
Your doctor may suggest one or more of the following.
This is often the first step for treating all types of thyroid cancer.
Doctors may remove all or part of your thyroid, depending on the size of the tumor and whether it's spread. They may also remove lymph nodes if cancer cells are present.
After surgery, your doctor may suggest this treatment for follicular and papillary thyroid cancer.
It involves swallowing a pill or liquid containing radioactive iodine. The iodine destroys any remaining thyroid cancer cells.
This treatment replaces thyroid hormones after surgery to remove your thyroid gland. It helps prevent thyroid cancer from growing or coming back.
If surgery and radiation don't stop the cancer, your doctor may use chemo or targeted therapy to treat the cancer.
Both are rare treatments for thyroid cancer.Back to top