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Thyroid Cancer: Frequently Asked Questions

What is the treatment for thyroid cancer?

The treatment of this type of cancer depends greatly on the pathologically-determined subtype. Surgery is very common in the treatment of thyriod cancer. All or part of the noncancerous thyroid and nearby lymph nodes are removed. When the thyroid gland is removed in its entirety, thyroid hormones must be taken in pill form (replacement therapy) to help restore normal metabolism to the body. A treatment known as radioactive iodine is sometimes used to kill any cancerous thyroid tissue not removed during surgery. ...
Surgery. The primary therapy for patients with thyroid cancer is surgery, which is followed by thyroid hormone therapy for the rest of their life. This may be the only therapy needed in patients who are at low risk for recurrence of the cancer. Radioactive iodine therapy. Radioactive iodine may be used as a “magic bullet” to destroy thyroid cancer cells after surgical removal of the thyroid gland. For radioactive iodine to be effective, high levels of TSH need to be produced in your body. ...

What causes thyroid cancer?

The exact cause of thyroid cancer is still not known, but many studies have shown that people exposed to nuclear fallout or power plant accidents such as the incident that occured in Chernobyl in 1986 are at a higher risk of developing thyroid cancer than the general population. In countries where people's diets are low in iodine, there has been an increased number of people with thyroid cancer.
Experts do not know the exact cause of thyroid cancer. But they do know that people who have been exposed to a lot of radiation—either from the environment or from medical treatment—have a greater chance of getting thyroid cancer. A dental X-ray now and then will not increase your chance of getting thyroid cancer. But past radiation treatment of your head, neck, or chest (especially during childhood) can put you at risk of getting thyroid cancer. ...

What are the symptoms of thyroid cancer?

Although many of the following symptoms may be present in non-cancerous conditions, they are also consistent in people with thyroid cancer. They are: difficulty swallowing, a lump in the neck that may or may not grow rapidly, a pain in the neck that may shoot up into the ears, difficulty breathing, a persistant cough and hoarseness.
The most common symptom of thyroid cancer is a lump or swelling in the neck. If you have a lump or swelling in your neck or other symptoms that concern you, you should see your doctor.
Some of the symptoms of thyroid cancer include: a lump over the thyroid or elsewhere in the neck, neck pain , hoarseness, trouble swallowing, trouble breathing, and a cough that lasts for a long time. These symptoms can be caused by many other things besides thyroid cancer. It is important to be checked by a doctor if you have any of these symptoms. Q: How is the thyroid scan performed? A: In a thyroid scan, the person will either swallow or be injected with a very small amount of radioactive material. ...

What is thyroid cancer ?

The thyroid gland can develop a cancer that spreads to other parts of the body. There are no symptoms at the early stages. Therefore, it is important to detect and treat the illness as early as possible.
Thyroid cancer is a disease that you get when abnormal cells begin to grow in your thyroid gland . The thyroid gland is shaped like a butterfly and is located in the front of your neck. It makes hormones that regulate the way your body uses energy and that help your body work normally. Thyroid cancer is an uncommon type of cancer. Most people who have it do very well, because the cancer is usually found early and the treatments work well. ...

What is the prognosis of thyroid cancer?

Overall, the prognosis of thyroid cancer is very good, especially for patients younger than 40 years of age and those with small tumors. Most of these patients can be cured. Even those patients who are unable to be cured of their thyroid cancer can live a long time and feel well despite their cancer. Finally, new treatments are becoming available on a regular basis for the rare patient in whom surgery and radioactive iodine cannot destroy all of the cancer cells.

Who usually gets thyroid cancer?

Women get thyroid cancer more often than men do. Also, people between the ages of 30 and 50 are more likely to get thyroid cancer than people of other ages.

What are the causes and risk factors of thyroid cancer?

While doctors can seldom explain why one person gets thyroid cancer and another doesn't, we do know that the disease is not contagious; no one can "catch" thyroid cancer from another person. Scientists do not know exactly what causes this disease, but research does show that some people are more likely to develop it than others. Some types of thyroid cancer are inherited (run in families) and can be associated with other types of endocrine tumors. ...

Can thyroid cancer be prevented?

Most people with thyroid cancer have no known risk factors; therefore, it is not possible to prevent most cases of this disease. Some doctors have suggested that the increase in thyroid cancers may be due to x-ray testing of young children. This has not been proven, but it is a good idea for children to avoid x-rays that aren’t necessary. Because of the genetic blood tests now available, most of the familial cases of medullary thyroid carcinoma (MTC) can be treated early or prevented. ...

What are the key statistics about thyroid cancer?

The American Cancer Society estimates that in 2008 about 37,340 new cases of thyroid cancer will be diagnosed in the United States . Of the new cases, about 28,410 will occur in women. In general, this is one of the least deadly cancers. The 5-year survival rate for all cases is about 97%. An estimated 910 women will die of thyroid cancer in 2008. Thyroid cancer is different from many other adult cancers in that it mainly affects younger people. Nearly 2 out of 3 cases are found in people between the ages of 20 and 55. ...

Is it possible that I have thyroid cancer ?

Thyroid cancer is unusual; most people do not have it. Children and young adults who are now 12 to 18 years old and lived in certain rayons of Cherkassy, Zhitomir, Rivne or Volyn Oblasts in 1986 are at a higher risk of developing this relatively rare form of cancer.

What is the follow-up for thyroid cancer patients?

Periodic follow-up examinations are essential for all thyroid cancer patients and include a careful history, physical examination, ultrasound imaging of the neck and blood tests to measure the levels of T4 and thyroglobulin, which is a thyroid cancer marker. Your doctor may want to repeat every so often a whole body iodine scan to determine if any thyroid cells remain in the body. ...

Is thyroid cancer curable once ablation has been completed?

Due to the standards of surgery and radiation therapy, thyroid cancer has a high cure rate. More than 80% of all cases are cured. However maintaining follow-up controls is an essential aspect in the early detection of any recurrence.

How long do I need to follow-up if I have thyroid cancer?

You should have yearly follow-up either by an endocrinologist or endocrine surgeon. This follow-up could be life-long.

Is thyroid cancer harder to treat in someone that has been treated with radiation?

There is some evidence that thyroid cancer may have spread more by the time it is detected in patients who have had radiation treatment. However, the usual treatment for thyroid cancer is still very effective and survival rates are similar to patients that have not received radiation treatment.

Can it help if I have had thyroid cancer?

If the cancer is causing hypothyroidism, low production of hormones, then Thyroid Assist can help but always ensure that any changes or additions to your medication are supervised by your professional health practitioner.
If the cancer is causing hypothyroidism, low production of hormones, then Thyroid Assist can help but always ensure that your professional health practitioner supervises any changes or additions to your medication.

Will potassium iodide tablets be distributed to the general population to prevent thyroid cancer?

They will only be made available to emergency workers and staff, patients and inmates of facilities where evacuation is not feasible.

Is potassium iodide effective in preventing the risk of thyroid cancer after a nuclear incident?

Yes, taking potassium iodide up to 48 hours before or 8 hours after exposure to radioactive iodine through inhalation or ingestion will protect the thyroid from thyroid cancer.

What is this new medication Thyrogen? And how does it help with the performance of tests to find recurrent thyroid cancer?

Thyrogen is genetically engineered human TSH, exactly like what your own pituitary gland makes. Injections of Thyrogen (in your buttock) stimulate remaining thyroid tissue to make Tg and take up radioiodine. And it does it without stopping thyroxine medication and all of the symptoms of hypothyroidism that this causes.

Do chest and dental x-rays place me at a higher risk for thyroid cancer?

X-rays used today to take images of the head and chest are not harmful. However, radiation procedures from the 1920s to the 1960s for inflamed tonsils, adenoids, lymph nodes or an enlarged thymus gland could put you at risk. There is a clearly established relationship between thyroid cancer and these early radiation treatments of the head and neck. If you believe you were exposed to this type of treatment as a child or an adult, you should have your thyroid checked annually.

How is thyroid cancer diagnosed?

If you have a lump in your neck that could be thyroid cancer, your doctor may do a biopsy of your thyroid gland to check for cancer cells. A biopsy is a simple procedure in which a small piece of the thyroid tissue is removed, usually with a needle, and then checked. Sometimes the results of a biopsy are not clear. In this case, you may need surgery to remove all or part of your thyroid gland before you find out if you have thyroid cancer.

If I have thyroid nodules does that mean I have thyroid cancer?

Most thyroid nodules (90-95%) are not cancerous. They are sometimes found as lumps on the neck. People can get thyroid nodules at any age, but older adults get them more often. A person may have a multinodular goiter, which means that the thyroid has several nodules. These nodules are sometimes cysts with fluid in them. There can also be extra lumps filled with thyroid hormone, which are called colloid nodules. These are not cancer. ...

If I have a family history of thyroid cancer how often should I follow-up?

Familial thyroid cancer increases your risk of getting thyroid cancer. Routine evaluation by a doctor and early referral to an endocrine center would be recommended depending on the number of family member affected. Genetic counseling may also be needed.

If the risk of thyroid cancer is so low, particularly in relation to x-ray medical staff, why are thyroid shields used?

A Even though risk is low, it is prudent to reduce radiation dose when it is feasible and practicable. Using lead shields to block the thyroid is an easy dose-reduction strategy and costs (purchase of lead apron or shield) are relatively inexpensive over their usable lifetime.

Why aren’t the Thyroid, Cancer, Heart Disease, and Special/Miscellaneous tests included in a Basic HealthPrint or Test Only Wellness Panel?

The Thyroid, Cancer, Heart Disease, and Special/Miscellaneous tests are specialty tests that are available to you for customizing the basic panel of tests (Basic HealthPrint or Test Only Wellness Panel) for the exact areas you are concerned about. Not everyone has the same concerns as you and they do not want to be forced to pay for a test they do not care about.
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