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Thyroid Cancer Treatment

Facts on Thyroid Cancer Treatment

  • Thyroid cancer is a disease in which malignant (cancer) cells form in the tissues of the thyroid gland.
  • Thyroid nodules are common but usually are not cancer.
  • There are different types of thyroid cancer.
  • Age, gender, and being exposed to radiation can affect the risk of thyroid cancer.
  • Medullary thyroid cancer is sometimes caused by a change in a gene that is passed from parent to child.
  • Signs of thyroid cancer include a swelling or lump in the neck.
  • Tests that examine the thyroid, neck, and blood are used to detect (find) and diagnose thyroid cancer.
  • Certain factors affect prognosis (chance of recovery) and treatment options.

What Is Thyroid Cancer?

Thyroid cancer is a disease in which malignant (cancer) cells form in the tissues of the thyroid gland.

The thyroid is a gland at the base of the throat near the trachea (windpipe). It is shaped like a butterfly, with a right lobe and a left lobe. The isthmus, a thin piece of tissue, connects the two lobes. A healthy thyroid is a little larger than a quarter. It usually cannot be felt through the skin.

The thyroid uses iodine, a mineral found in some foods and in iodized salt, to help make several hormones.

Thyroid hormones do the following:

  • Control heart rate, body temperature, and how quickly food is changed into energy (metabolism).
  • Control the amount of calcium in the blood.

Thyroid nodules are common but usually are not cancer.

Your doctor may find a lump (nodule) in your thyroid during a routine medical exam. A thyroid nodule is an abnormal growth of thyroid cells in the thyroid. Nodules may be solid or fluid-filled.

When a thyroid nodule is found, an ultrasound of the thyroid and a fine-needle aspiration biopsy are often done to check for signs of cancer. Blood tests to check thyroid hormone levels and for antithyroid antibodies in the blood may also be done to check for other types of thyroid disease.

Thyroid nodules usually don't cause symptoms or need treatment. Sometimes the thyroid nodules become large enough that it is hard to swallow or breathe and more tests and treatment are needed. Only a small number of thyroid nodules are diagnosed as cancer.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 8/8/2017

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