Thyroid Cancer

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What Is Thyroid Cancer?

Thyroid cancer begins in the thyroid gland, a small butterfly-shaped gland located in the front of the neck at the base of the throat. The thyroid gland regulates the body’s hormones as well as other key functions of the body. While thyroid cancer is not as common as other cancers, the thyroid does play a major part in the body and should be checked during routine annual examinations

Who Gets Thyroid Cancer?

While thyroid cancer can occur at any age, women are more likely to be diagnosed in their 40s and 50s while men are more likely to be diagnosed in their 60s or 70s. Thyroid cancer is more likely to occur in women than in men. 

What Kind of Doctor Treats Thyroid Cancer?

Doctors that treat thyroid cancer are called endocrinologists. Endocrinologists are specialists who work with the endocrine system related to glands and the associated hormones that help regulate multiple functions of the body such as heart rate, blood pressure, temperature and metabolism. Radiation and medical oncologists also assist in treating thyroid cancer using radiation and chemotherapy. 

What Causes Thyroid Cancer?

Thyroid cancer can be caused by multiple factors including age, gender and more. People who have a family history of thyroid cancer or have been exposed to high levels of radiation are at a higher risk to develop thyroid cancer.

Learn more about thyroid cancer causes, risk factors and prevention.

What Are the Symptoms and Types of Thyroid Cancer?

Thyroid cancer typically does not cause any signs or symptoms early in the disease.  As thyroid cancer grows symptoms may vary from patient to patient, but the main thyroid cancer symptoms include:

  • A lump or nodule that can be felt through the skin on the neck
  • Problems swallowing
  • Pain in the front of the neck or throat
  • A cough that does not go away
  • Breathing problems, especially the feeling like breathing though a straw
  • Cough with blood
  • Changes to the voice, including increasing hoarseness
  • Swollen lymph nodes in the neck

These symptoms may be associated with other health conditions and do not always relate back to thyroid cancer.  If you have any of these symptoms and find that they worsen or don’t go away over time, schedule an appointment with your doctor right away for a proper diagnosis.

Thyroid cancer can be diagnosed in three types: medullary, anaplastic and differentiated.

Learn more about the signs, symptoms and types of thyroid cancer.

How Is Thyroid Cancer Diagnosed?

Let the experts at Banner MD Anderson Cancer Center help accurately diagnose and recognize thyroid cancer. Thyroid cancer can be diagnosed with a variety of testing including:

  • Physical examination
  • Imaging testing
  • Biopsy
  • Genetic testing

Learn more about thyroid cancer testing and diagnosis.

What Treatments are Available for Thyroid Cancer?

Treatments for thyroid cancer depend on the severity and stage of cancer. Your doctor can help make the best treatment decision. Thyroid cancer treatments include:

  • Thyroid Cancer Surgery
  • Radiation Therapy
  • Thyroid Hormone Therapy
  • Chemotherapy
  • Clinical Trials

Learn more about thyroid cancer treatment and support.

As leaders in thyroid cancer research, we’re here for you every step of the way during your thyroid cancer diagnosis and treatment.