Thyroid Hormone Replacement Therapy
Many people who have a partial thyroidectomy wont need thyroid hormone replacement therapy because the remaining lobe will continue to make enough hormones.
After the whole thyroid is removed, your body will no longer produce the hormones that maintain your metabolism, and you will be prescribed a hormone tablet.
Taking thyroid hormone tablets can keep your bodys metabolism functioning at a normal healthy rate and reduce the risk of the cancer coming back.
What Questions Should I Ask My Doctor
If you have thyroid cancer, you may want to ask your healthcare provider:
- Why did I get thyroid cancer?
- What type of thyroid cancer do I have?
- Has the cancer spread outside of the thyroid gland?
- What is the best treatment for this type of thyroid cancer?
- What are the treatment risks and side effects?
- Will I need thyroid replacement hormone therapy?
- Is my family at risk for developing this type of thyroid cancer? If so, should we get genetic tests?
- Can I get thyroid cancer again?
- Am I at risk for other types of cancer?
- What type of follow-up care do I need after treatment?
- Should I look out for signs of complications?
A note from Cleveland Clinic
Receiving a cancer diagnosis is unsettling, regardless of the type. Fortunately, most thyroid cancers respond extremely well to treatment. Your healthcare provider can discuss the best treatment option for the type of thyroid cancer you have. After treatment, you may need to take synthetic thyroid hormones for life. These hormones support vital body functions. They usually dont cause any significant side effects, but youll have regular checkups to monitor your health.
Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 08/13/2020.
Thyroid Nodule Symptom # : A Lump In The Neck That You Can See Or Other People Can See
- What to do about it?
Thyroid nodules that the patient can see, or somebody else can see should almost always be examined by an ultrasound test. Depending on the characteristics of the nodule , the nodule may need a needle biopsy. Almost all thyroid nodules that can be seen should have a FNA thyroid needle biopsy.
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Signs And Symptoms Of Thyroid Cancer
Thyroid cancer can cause any of the following signs or symptoms:
- A lump in the neck, sometimes growing quickly
- Swelling in the neck
- Pain in the front of the neck, sometimes going up to the ears
- Hoarseness or other voice changes that do not go away
- Trouble swallowing
- Trouble breathing
- A constant cough that is not due to a cold
If you have any of these signs or symptoms, talk to your doctor right away. Many of these symptoms can also be caused by non-cancerous conditions or even other cancers of the neck area. Lumps in the thyroid are common and are usually benign. Still, if you have any of these symptoms, its important to see your doctor so the cause can be found and treated, if needed.
Our team is made up of doctors and oncology certified nurses with deep knowledge of cancer care as well as journalists, editors, and translators with extensive experience in medical writing.
Davidge-Pitts CJ and Thompson GB. Chapter 82: Thyroid Tumors. In: DeVita VT, Lawrence TS, Rosenberg SA, eds. DeVita, Hellman, and RosenbergsCancer: Principles and Practice of Oncology. 10th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins 2015.
National Cancer Institute. Physician Data Query . Thyroid Cancer Treatment. 05/23/2018. Accessed at https://www.cancer.gov/types/thyroid/patient/thyroid-treatment-pdq#_1. on February 20, 2019.
Last Revised: March 14, 2019
Other Signs And Symptoms
Other, more rare or unusual signs of medullary thyroid cancer that you should be aware of include:
- Severe diarrhea. This is a very rare symptom sometimes found in people with advanced medullary thyroid cancer. The tumor produces high levels of calcitonin, a hormone that may cause severe diarrhea.
- Cushing syndrome. In rare cases, adrenal tumors can cause Cushing syndrome, a condition that arises when a tumor secretes hormones that the thyroid wouldnt normal create. Cushing syndrome associated with medullary thyroid cancer is uncommon. The syndrome is more commonly caused by the pituitary gland overproducing adrenocorticotropic hormone , or by taking oral corticosteroid medication.
- Facial flushing. A red face, neck, or chest paired with warm or burning sensations can be a sign of many conditions. Tumors or other abnormal growths can overproduce hormones, triggering flushing. The symptom can also be a response to certain drugs, foods, alcohol, or menopause.
- Bone pain. People with medullary thyroid cancer may have bone pain if the cancer has spread to form bone lesions.
- Lethargy. Many people with advanced cancer may feel physically, emotionally, or mentally tired. The causes of fatigue during cancer are complex and not well understood.
- Weight loss. Unusual weight loss is a symptom of advanced medullary thyroid cancer that has spread beyond the thyroid into other organs.
Last medically reviewed on August 12, 2019
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A Lump On The Side Of Your Neck Is Also A Common Symptom
One of the most common signs of thyroid cancer isa lump in the neck. According to the American Cancer Society, this kind of lump can grow quickly and is even occasionally be detected with the naked eye. Any new lumps or bumps anywhere on your body should always be checked out by a medical professional.
Thyroid Cancer Symptom #: A Cough That Wont Go Away
It is easy to dismiss a thyroid cancer symptom of a simple cough. Many other potential causes of a cough exist including allergies, post nasal drip, and reflux of stomach acids. These are much more commonly identified as the cause of the simple cough or need to clear the throat than thyroid cancer itself. The cause of the symptom of thyroid cancer of a cough which will not go away is likely due to some form of irritation to the sensory or movement nerves of the voice box. This can be caused by inflammation or irritation of the nerves to the voice box by the thyroid cancer or even due to direct or indirect pressure on these nerves or the breathing tube itself.
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Head To The Doctor If You Notice Swelling Or Changes In Your Lymph Nodes
According to Healthline, your lymph nodes are small glands that play a crucial part in immune function. They are located at different areas of the body, includingunder the jaw and on either side of the neck. Lymph nodes frequently become swollen as a result of cancer, so it’s very important to be seen by a medical expert if you notice any enlargement or tenderness under your jaw or on either side of your neck.
Thyroid Cancer Symptom #: Lump Or Mass In The Neck
When thyroid cancer symptoms do exist, the most common symptom is a lump or a mass in the neck. This lump can be noted from a mass within the thyroid gland itself or when a thyroid cancer has spread to a lymph node. Thyroid cancer lymph nodes are usually not painful whatsoever. When a thyroid cancer lymph node is painful, the most common diagnosis is a special type of thyroid cancer called medullary thyroid cancer.
A case in point. A healthy 35 year young woman is having lunch with a friend and this friend notices a lump in her neck. Her high resolution ultrasound shows a lump in her right thyroid gland
Figure 1: The red line points to the right thyroid mass shown in the high resolution ultrasound
Her needle biopsy shows the most common type of thyroid cancer effecting women called papillary thyroid cancer. Her ultrasound further confirmed that the papillary thyroid cancer had spread to some lymph nodes in her neck and the CAT scan examining her thyroid cancer is shown in Figure 2.
Figure 2: Red arrow in this CAT scan shows the right thyroid mass and the yellow arrow is pointing to the papillary thyroid cancer spread to a small neck lymph.
Expert thyroid cancer surgical care is required to achieve the best cure rate and lowest complication rate for thyroid cancer. Figure 3 Shows what this papillary thyroid cancer looks like after it has been removed.
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Difficulty Moving The Jaw
A head and neck tumor that involves the bones, muscles, or nerves of the jaw can make it difficult to open your mouth. Most people are able to open their mouth about the width of three fingers. If you are having trouble opening your mouth this wide, see your doctor. This condition is known as trismus. Chances are that you dont have cancer, but it can lead to other serious health problems.
Can Neck Pain Be A Symptom Of Cancer
Sometimes persistent, continuing neck pain is a warning sign of head or neck cancer. Although it could also be a sign of another less serious condition, head and neck cancers might include a lump, swelling or a sore that doesnt heal. According to the American Society of Clinical Oncology, this is the most common symptom of cancer.
Other symptoms of neck or head cancer may include:
- white or red patch on the lining of the mouth, gums, or tongue
- unusual pain or bleeding in the mouth
- difficulty chewing or swallowing
- numbness in the head and neck region
- swelling in the chin or jaw
- pain when moving the jaw or tongue
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Pinched Blood Vessels & Thyroid
The cervical spine is intertwined with not just nerves but also blood vessels. C7 disruption can pinch the nerves as well as the blood vessels including the blood vessels to your thyroid gland.
In order to function properly, your thyroid gland requires proper blood flow to carry oxygen-rich blood via arteries to the thyroid gland and take the waste products away from the thyroid gland via veins. If there is disruption to that blood circulation to and from the thyroid gland, say from the blood vessels being pinched by misalignment of your C7 vertebra, it can impact its functioning.
If you look closely at the diagram above you will also notice the carotid arteries which branch off from the aorta a short distance from the heart. They extend upward through the neck carrying oxygen-rich blood up to the head including your precious brain.
Hypothyroid patients come in droves to Hypothyroid Mom complaining about all sorts of head and brain-related symptoms, everything from brain fog, attention deficit, memory problems, headache, vertigo, mental health issues, hair loss, and eye and ear problemstoo. Considering the possibility of interrupted blood flow to the thyroid gland but also to the head region from cervical spine disruption, I often ask my Hypothyroid Mom readers with symptoms related to the head region these questions:
Do you experience dizziness, blurry vision, or ringing in your ears upon turning your head from side to side?
Thyroid Cancer Is A Disease In Which Malignant Cells Form In The Tissues Of The Thyroid Gland
The thyroid is a gland at the base of the throat near the trachea . 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 .
- Control the amount of calcium in the blood.
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Persistent Changes In The Voice
While nodules on the thyroid are usually benign, lasting changes in the patients voice can indicate that the nodule is malignant.
The thyroid sits under the larynx, which is also known as the voice box. The laryngeal nerves, which split off from the vagus nerves, are attached to the base of the larynx. They regulate the larynxs function by sending electrical impulses through it.
Growths on the thyroid can put pressure on the larynx or the laryngeal nerve. That pressure will eventually cause changes in the voice, such as persistent hoarseness. Thus, a patient who develops a raspy voice that shows no signs of getting better should have their thyroid checked for abnormal growths.
Prognosis And Survival Rates For Thyroid Cancer
When someone is diagnosed with thyroid cancer, their doctor will give them a prognosis. A prognosis is the doctors opinion of how likely the cancer will spread and the chances of getting better. A prognosis depends on the type and stage of cancer, test results and a persons age, fitness and medical history.
The most common types of thyroid cancer have an excellent long-term prognosis, especially if the cancer is found only in the thyroid or nearby lymph nodes in the neck. Even if the cancer has spread, the outcome can still be good.
Doctors commonly use 5-year survival rates as a way to discuss prognosis. This is because research studies often follow people for 5 years it does not mean you will survive for only 5 years. Thyroid cancer has a very high 5-year survival rate .
If you have thyroid cancer, your doctor will talk to you about your individual situation when working out your prognosis. Every persons experience is different, and there is support available to you.
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When To See A Doctor
The above symptoms are associated with thyroid nodules of all types, not just cancerous nodules. Since most thyroid cancers develop in thyroid nodules, it’s essential to be aware of these symptoms and signs that may point to thyroid cancer. Keep in mind, however, that the majority of thyroid nodules are not cancerous, and most adults will have a thyroid nodule .
The symptoms of thyroid cancer are hard to detectand usually the noticeable symptoms are caused not by the cancer itself but by the thyroid nodule where the thyroid cancer is developing. If you notice any of these signs or symptoms, make an appointment with your doctor.
Thyroid Cancer Symptom #: Sense Or Feeling Like You Need To Swallow Something
The second most common symptom of thyroid cancer is a change in swallowing or a feeling like something is in your throat when you swallow but it just wont go down. This thyroid cancer symptom is caused by special nerve endings in the swallowing tube called baroreceptors. These special nerve endings sense pressure. However these special nerve endings cannot tell whether the pressure is being created inside the swallowing tube or from the outside of the swallowing tube being pushed in. Because the thyroid gland often lays right on top of the swallowing tube, a thyroid cancer within the thyroid gland will produce pressure on the esophagus producing the thyroid cancer symptom of feeling like you need to swallow something.
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Having Trouble Swallowing Might Be An Indication Of Thyroid Cancer
If you’re havingtrouble swallowing or you feel like there’s something caught in your throat, that could be a good reason to take a trip to the doctor. According to the CDC, trouble swallowing with no other associated illnesses or medical condition is sometimes a sign of cancer of the throat or thyroid. The only way to know for sure is to be evaluated by a medical professional.
What To Do If You Notice Signs Of Thyroid Cancer
If you experience signs of thyroid cancer, its important to consult with your doctor to get an accurate diagnosis.
First, your doctor may conduct a physical examination, manually palpating your neck and throat to check for abnormal growths or areas of swelling, including the thyroid and lymph nodes. Your doctor may also gather your personal and family medical history, ask about your symptoms and risk factors, including any inherited genetic mutations.
A blood test called a tumor marker test may be recommended to check for high levels of certain hormones, such as:
- Thyroid-stimulating hormone
If cancer is suspected, one or more of the following diagnostic tests may be ordered:
Ultrasound. An ultrasound over the neck region may be done to locate any nodules that are present on your thyroid and determine whether theyre made up of solid or liquid material.
Chest X-ray: This basic imaging test may be done if your doctor suspects the cancer has metastasized to your lungs.
Magnetic resonance imaging scan: Using magnets, an MRI scan creates highly detailed images of the thyroid and surrounding areas.
Computed tomography scan or positron emission tomography scan: A CT scan uses contrast dye that helps your doctor pinpoint the size and location of your cancer, and whether it has metastasized to surrounding tissues. A PET scan is similar but uses an injection of radioactive sugar instead of contrast dye .
Expert cancer care
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When To See A Healthcare Provider
If you feel a new swelling or lump in your neck, or if an imaging test incidentally reveals a thyroid growth, it’s important to schedule an appointment with your healthcare provider right away.
During your appointment, your healthcare provider will:
- Perform a physical examination, including a neck examination
- Order an ultrasound of your thyroid
- Check blood tests that may include a thyroid-stimulating hormone , free thyroxine , and thyroid antibodies
Depending on the results of these tests, your primary care or family healthcare provider may refer you to a healthcare provider who specializes in thyroid care . An endocrinologist may take another look at the thyroid nodule with ultrasound in his or her office and perform a fine-needle aspiration biopsy to see whether cancer cells are present.
Thyroid Cancer Healthcare Provider Discussion Guide
Get our printable guide for your next healthcare provider’s appointment to help you ask the right questions.
The diagnosis of thyroid cancer has been on the rise both in the United States and worldwide, due in large part to the sophistication of high-resolution imaging tests. In other words, these thyroid nodules that would never have been found years ago are now being identified.
While the majority of these small nodules end up not being cancer, determining which ones are is keyâthis is because most thyroid cancers are curable, especially those that are small and have not spread.