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How Can I Tell If I Have Thyroid Cancer

What Is Thyroid Cancer

Thyroid Cancer – Know the signs

Thyroid cancer is a type of cancer that starts in the thyroid gland. It happens when cells in the thyroid grow out of control and crowd out normal cells.

Thyroid cancer cells can spread to other parts of the body such as the lungs and the bone and grow there. When cancer cells do this, its called metastasis. But the type of cancer is based on the type of cells it started from.

So even if thyroid cancer spreads to the lung , its still called thyroid cancer, not called lung cancer.

The thyroid

Ask your doctor to use this picture to show you where your cancer is.

What Causes Thyroid Cancer

In most cases, the cause of thyroid cancer is unknown. However, certain things can increase your chances of developing the condition.

Risk factors for thyroid cancer include:

  • having a benign thyroid condition
  • having a family history of thyroid cancer
  • having a bowel condition known as familial adenomatous polyposis
  • acromegaly a rare condition where the body produces too much growth hormone
  • having a previous benign breast condition
  • weight and height

Read more about the causes of thyroid cancer

Symptoms Of Thyroid Noduleswhich Could Become Cancerousand When To See A Doctor

doesnt always have symptoms, so it can be hard to detect and diagnose. In fact, some of the possible symptoms arent actually caused by thyroid cancer itself. Instead, these symptoms can be caused by a and thyroid nodules arent necessarily cancerous.

When it comes to thyroid cancer and thyroid nodules, heres the most important thing to keep in mind: most thyroid nodules are not cancerous. Most adults have thyroid nodules, and as you age, you develop more nodules.

Keep in mind that 95% of all thyroid nodules are not cancerous they are benign¹.

However, most people diagnosed with thyroid cancer usually find out first that they have a thyroid nodule. Through further testing, they can be diagnosed with a type of thyroid cancer.

Learn more about the types of thyroid cancer in our .

Initially, though, people may go into the doctor because they notice the following symptoms and signs:

Recommended Reading: Thyroid Tests For Hashimoto Disease

Know The Risk Factors For Hypothyroidism And Thyroid Cancer

They may not be considered preventable, but hypothyroidism and thyroid cancer share a few risk factors that could increase your likelihood of developing either condition and make you more vigilant about watching for them.

Most people diagnosed with thyroid cancer are 40 or older. Although those diagnosed with hypothyroidism are typically older than 60, both conditions are more common among women than men.

Exposure to radiation is another risk factor for both hypothyroidism and thyroid cancer. “Thyroid cancer is associated with a history of ionizing radiation exposure such as radiation used to treat acne or enlarged adenoids in the 1950s or mantle radiation used to treat lymphoma,” notes Dr. Sullivan.

Research has shown that radioactive fallout from nuclear weapons or power plant accidents have increased children’s risk for thyroid cancer. Anyone who has received radiation to the thyroid, neck, or chest is also at greater risk for hypothyroidism.

If you have a family history of thyroid disease, you’re also at greater risk for hypothyroidism. In addition, certain inherited conditions or a family history of the disease have been linked to thyroid cancer.

A thyroid condition known as Hashimoto’s thyroiditis is associated with an increased risk for thyroid cancer. This autoimmune disease is also the most common cause of hypothyroidism. With Hashimoto’s, the immune system makes antibodies that damage the thyroid and interfere with its ability to release thyroid hormone.

Can I Prevent Thyroid Cancer

Thyroid Cancer Young Female / Confronting Thyroid Problems ...

Many people develop thyroid cancer for no known reason, so prevention isnât really possible. But if you know youâre at risk for thyroid cancer, you may be able to take these steps:

  • Preventive surgery: Genetic tests can determine if you carry an altered gene that increases your risk for medullary thyroid cancer or multiple endocrine neoplasia. If you have the faulty gene, you may opt to have preventive surgery to remove your thyroid gland before cancer develops.
  • Potassium iodide: If youâve had radiation exposure during a nuclear disaster, such as the 2011 incident at Fukushima, Japan, taking potassium iodide within 24 hours of exposure can lower your risk of eventually getting thyroid cancer. Potassium iodide blocks your thyroid gland from absorbing too much radioiodine. As a result, your gland stays healthy.

Recommended Reading: Thyroid Cancer Spread To Lymph Nodes Survival Rate

After A Diagnosis Of Thyroid Cancer

After a diagnosis of thyroid cancer you may feel disbelief, uncertainty, fear and anxiety. There is no right or wrong way to feel and experiencing a range of emotions is normal. While the most common types of thyroid cancers have a very good long-term prognosis, you may still feel shocked and confused. It may help to talk to family and friends about how you are feeling.

Ask your specialist to explain treatment options and any potential side effects and financial concerns. Take as much time as you can so that you can make well-informed decisions.

The Importance Of Thyroid Symptoms You Can See

Doctors usually find thyroid cancer when patients are getting ultrasounds, CT scans, or MRIs for an unrelated reason, but the nodules will rarely cause problems, says Michael Tuttle, MD, an endocrinologist with Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. Patients can usually choose to keep an eye on the cancer and make sure it doesnt get worse rather than getting treatment right away, he says. I would ignore asymptomatic, millimeter-sized things that youd only find if youre looking for it, he says. But any signs or anything you can feel in the neck, that would cross over to something you should no longer ignore. If you have any of these potential thyroid cancer symptoms, ask your doctor if you should get a fine needle aspiration to test for cancer.

Read Also: When Is The Best Time To Take Thyroid Medication

What Happens If I Have Metastatic Thyroid Cancer

If youve been diagnosed with metastatic thyroid cancer, it is important to seek out a cancer center that has a high level of experience treating advanced stages of this malignancy. At Moffitt Cancer Center, our multispecialty team includes medical oncologists, radiation oncologists, endocrinologists, interventional radiologists and many other experts who collaborate to provide our patients with the best possible treatment. Each patient at Moffitt receives an individualized treatment plan tailored to his or her needs. This plan may include surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy or a combination of several approaches.

To learn more about metastatic thyroid cancer diagnostic and treatment services at Moffitt, call or fill out a new patient registration form online. No referral is required.

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Tests For Thyroid Cancer

Ask Mayo Clinic: Thyroid Cancer

Thyroid cancer may be diagnosed after a person goes to a doctor because of symptoms, or it might be found during a routine physical exam or other tests. If there is a reason to suspect you might have thyroid cancer, your doctor will use one or more tests to confirm the diagnosis. If cancer is found, other tests might be done to find out more about the cancer.

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How To Diagnose Thyroid Cancer

This article was medically reviewed by and by wikiHow staff writer, Megaera Lorenz, PhD. Dr. Litza is a board certified Family Medicine Physician in Wisconsin. She is a practicing Physician and taught as a Clinical Professor for 13 years, after receiving her MD from the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Medicine and Public Health in 1998.There are 16 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page. This article has been viewed 85,937 times.

Thyroid cancer is a rare cancer with 4 different types. The risk and treatment for each type can vary by age. Thyroid cancer is slow-growing, and typically has no symptoms in the early stages. Fortunately, most forms of thyroid cancer are very treatable, and in many cases can be completely cured.XTrustworthy SourceNational Health Service Public healthcare system of the UKGo to source Learn to recognize the typical signs of thyroid cancer, and see your doctor for a diagnosis if you suspect you have it or may be at risk. You can improve your chances of successfully detecting and treating thyroid cancer early if you understand the risk factors.

Side Effects Of Thyroid Surgery

The risks of thyroid surgery include:

  • Damage to the laryngeal nerve. It can be stunned, or one vocal cord wont move the same way as the other, Dr. Harari explains. About 5% of people temporarily experience this complication, and 1% have permanent damage. There are procedures to regain vocal strength, and an ENT specialist can assist the patient in these efforts.

  • Hypoparathyroidism, or, as sometimes surgeons decide to remove one or more of the parathyroid glands four tiny glands that regulate the bodys calcium levels and are located near the back of the thyroid. People whose thyroid surgery involves a central neck incision have a 10% risk of parathyroid complications.

  • Vagus nerve issues. Lateral neck incisions can risk impacting the vagus nerve, Dr. Harari says. This can have effects on the voice as well as the shoulder or tongue.

  • Loss of thyroid function. After surgery, you will probably need to take pills for the rest of your life to replace lost thyroid hormones. If your parathyroid glands are also removed, you may also need to take calcium and vitamin D.

Read Also: Thyroid Cancer Follow Up Guidelines

How Can I Prevent Thyroid Cancer

Many people develop thyroid cancer for no known reason, so prevention isnt really possible. But if you know youre at risk for thyroid cancer, you may be able to take these steps:

  • Preventive surgery: Genetic tests can determine if you carry an altered gene that increases your risk for medullary thyroid cancer or multiple endocrine neoplasia. If you have the faulty gene, you may opt to have preventive surgery to remove your thyroid gland before cancer develops.
  • Potassium iodide: If you were exposed to radiation during a nuclear disaster, such as the 2011 incident at Fukushima, Japan, taking potassium iodide within 24 hours of exposure can lower your risk of eventually getting thyroid cancer. Potassium iodide blocks the thyroid gland from absorbing too much radioiodine. As a result, the gland stays healthy.

Second Way To Check For Thyroid Cancer Wellness Visit With Your Primary Care Physician

University of Toronto

The second best way to check for thyroid cancer is to stay up to date with your medical visits. This may mean an annual check-up with your primary care physician or your OB/GYN. Both types of physicians will take a complete history and do a thorough physical exam as part of the thyroid cancer screening process. When your physician is taking your history, you will be asked many questions about recent signs and symptoms. Through these questions, certain symptoms may be noted that could be related to a thyroid cancer. If certain symptoms like a change in voice, difficulty swallowing, or a sense of a lump in your throat are mentioned, then a proper thyroid ultrasound would then be ordered.

During your physical exam portion of a thyroid cancer screening, your neck would also be felt to detect any lumps or irregularities. While your doctor is feeling your neck, he/she may feel a growth in your thyroid or an enlarged lymph node. These findings could be indicative of a thyroid cancer and would also prompt a dedicated thyroid ultrasound.

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What About Other Treatments I Hear About

When you have cancer you might hear about other ways to treat the cancer or treat your symptoms. These may not always be standard medical treatments. These treatments may be vitamins, herbs, special diets, and other things. You may wonder about these treatments.

Some of these are known to help, but many have not been tested. Some have been shown not to help. A few have even been found to be harmful. Talk to your doctor about anything youre thinking about using, whether its a vitamin, a diet, or anything else.

Thyroid Cancer: Common In Women

Thyroid disorders are more common in women, probably due to the roles of hormones, which are different in femalesthan in males.

Thyroid nodules, Russell says, affect up to 80 percent of women, but only 5percent to 15 percent of those lumps and bumps are malignant. Bettertesting means thyroid tumors are on the rise, he notes, saying that itsprojected to become the third most common cancer.

Malignant and cancer are scary words, but Russell says that mostthyroid cancer is highly treatable, even when the cancer cells spread tonearby lymph nodes, which occurs frequently.

With thyroid cancer we talk about prognosis in terms of 20-year survivalinstead of five years, as we do with most other cancers. Its usually aslow-moving disease. Theres a 98 to 99 percent survival rate at 20 years,he says.

We treat it almost like a chronic condition where the patient getstreatment and visits her doctor regularly for follow-up.

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Symptoms Of Thyroid Cancer

Thyroid cancer usually develops slowly, without many obvious symptoms. However, some people experience one or more of the following:

  • a painless lump in the neck
  • trouble swallowing
  • changes to the voice
  • swollen lymph glands in the neck .

Although a painless lump in the neck is a typical sign of thyroid cancer, thyroid lumps are common and turn out to be benign in 90% of adults. Having an underactive or overactive thyroid is not typically a sign of thyroid cancer.

Not everyone with these symptoms has thyroid cancer. If you have any of these symptoms or are worried, always see your doctor.

Warning Signs Of Thyroid Cancer: Know Your Neck

Thyroid Cancer Symptoms & Early Warning Signs

September is Thyroid Cancer Awareness Month. Everyone has a thyroid gland. Because there is no screening test for the disease, it’s critical to understand and recognize the signs and symptoms so we can catch it early. Fortunately, thyroid cancers that are detected early are highly curable.

The thyroid gland affects many functions in the body heart rate, blood pressure, body temperature and weight. It is located in the lower, front part of the neck and contains two lobes, the left lobe and the right lobe. Like any other cells in the body, the cells in the thyroid gland have the potential to become cancerous.

Signs of cancer in the thyroid are not always obvious. So its important to pay attention to any changes, such as:

  • Unusual nodules, or bumps, on your neck
  • Persistent hoarseness or other voice changes
  • Persistent, unexplained cough
  • Pain in the neck or throat
  • Sensitivity in the neck

Anyone who has had prior radiation to the neck could be at higher risk for the disease and needs to be particularly aware of such signs.

Frequently Searched Questions: Thyroid Cancer

You ask the internet a lot of questions and Roswell Park has some answers. Head and neck surgeon, Vishal Gupta, MD, and endocrinologist, Rajeev Sharma, MBBS, MD, FACE, sat down to answer some of the internet’s most-searched-for questions related to thyroid cancer.

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Are There Complementary Therapies I Can Try

While there are no great studies showing that complementary and alternative medicine can cure or treat thyroid cancer, you might find some of them helpful for relieving stress, such as aromatherapy or massage therapy.

Ask your doctor before taking any herbal supplements, and if you are already taking some, be sure to let your provider know what and how much, as some herbs can impact thyroid function or interfere with medications.

Are Thyroid Nodules Common

Yes, thyroid nodules can be detected with ultrasonography in nearly 40- 50% of otherwise completely healthy adults. Most nodules are so small that they are never noticed by the patient or doctor. However, the wide spread use of CT, MRI, and neck ultrasonography has led to the detection of many very small, asymptomatic thyroid nodules that may or may not require further evaluation.

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Magnetic Resonance Imaging Scan

MRI scans use magnets instead of radiation to create detailed cross-sectional images of your body. MRI can be used to look for cancer in the thyroid, or cancer that has spread to nearby or distant parts of the body. But ultrasound is usually the first choice for looking at the thyroid. MRI can provide very detailed images of soft tissues such as the thyroid gland. MRI scans are also very helpful in looking at the brain and spinal cord.

Does A Thyroid Mass Need Surgery

About Medullary Thyroid Carcinoma

A thyroid mass may either be monitored with yearly ultrasounds and serial biopsies or it may require surgical intervention. If the nodule is small and benign appearing and not causing any symptoms, then this type of thyroid mass may certainly by monitored with yearly ultrasounds.

If the thyroid mass is large and causing trouble breathing or trouble swallowing, then surgical removal of at least half of the thyroid gland will likely be needed. If the thyroid nodule requires a biopsy and has suspicious cells or cancer cells, then surgical removal of at least half of the thyroid gland would be needed as well.

Discover the Top 4 Facts about Thyroid Nodule Surgery here.

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Do All Thyroid Nodules Require Fine Needle Aspiration Biopsy

No. As a general rule, thyroid nodules less than 1 cm can be followed with observation without the need for fine needle aspiration. These small nodules are often found incidentally on CT, MRI or neck ultrasound done for some other reason. They are very common and are rarely thyroid cancer. Therefore, in the absence of other high risk features, these small nodules are usually observed with a repeat thyroid ultrasound in 6-12 months reserving biopsy for those few nodules that increase in size over time

The 2016 ATA guidelines also note that a biopsy may not be required for nodules as large as 2 cm if the ultrasonographic features suggest that the nodule is not likely to be thyroid cancer.

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