Thyroid Cancer

Thyroid cancer facts*

*Thyroid cancer facts medical author:

  • The thyroid gland produces thyroid hormones which are important in the normal regulation of the metabolism of the body.
  • Thyroid cancer is three times more common in women than in men.
  • There are four major types of thyroid cancer: papillary, follicular, medullary, and anaplastic.
  • The cause of thyroid cancer is unknown, but certain risk factors have been identified and include a family history of goiter, exposure to high levels of radiation, and certain hereditary syndromes.
  • The National Cancer Institute recommends that anyone who received radiation to the head or neck in childhood be examined by a doctor every one to two years to detect potential thyroid cancer.
  • The most common signs and symptoms of thyroid cancer include a lump, or thyroid nodule, that can be felt in the neck, trouble swallowing, throat or neck pain, swollen lymph nodes in the neck, cough, and vocal changes.
  • The only certain way to tell whether a thyroid lump is cancerous is by examining the thyroid tissue obtained using a needle or surgery for biopsy. A CEA blood test, physical exam, X-rays, CT scans, PET scans, ultrasounds, and MRIs may also be used to help establish a definitive diagnosis and determine staging.
  • Surgery is the most common form of treatment for thyroid cancer that has not spread to other areas of the body. Radiation therapy, chemotherapy, and radioactive iodine treatment are also treatment options for thyroid cancer.
  • The survival rate and prognosis of thyroid cancer depends upon a few factors, including the individual's age, the size of the tumor, and whether the cancer has metastasized.
  • It is not possible to prevent most cases of thyroid cancer.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 5/7/2012

Patient Comments

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Thyroid Cancer - Symptoms Question: The symptoms of thyroid cancer can vary greatly from patient to patient. What were your symptoms at the onset of your disease?
Thyroid Cancer - Treatments Question: What was the treatment for your thyroid cancer?
Thyroid Cancer - Share Your Surgery Experience Question: Please share your experience with surgery for thyroid cancer.

Thyroid Cancer in Children and Teenagers

Although not as common as leukemias and brain tumors, thyroid cancer is the third most common solid tumor cancer type in children.

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