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How Common Is Thyroid Cancer In Young Adults

Who Might Have Thyroid Cancer

Cancer in Young Adults

Women are three times more likely than men to get thyroid cancer. The disease is commonly diagnosed in women in their 40s and 50s, and men in their 60s and 70s. Even children can develop the disease. Risk factors include:

  • Exposure to radioactive fallout from nuclear weapons or a power plant accident.

What Can We Do About It

The good news is that the absolute rates are still relatively low, Dr. Roth says. One shouldnt expect to be diagnosed with a cancer during this age. But dont write off your risk, either. It is incredibly important that young people go to the doctor every year and get a general health check-up, make sure theyre talking with their doctors about their risks, exercise, and nutrition, he suggests. What you do now really does matter when you get older.

Dr. Zaorsky agrees that a healthy diet and regular exercise are the best defenses in your control. The standard in the U.S., for many people, isnt ideal, he says. Focus on eating whole foods, limiting processed foods, sugar, and alcohol, and sourcing fresh ingredients whenever you can.

Other than that, pay attention to your family history. If someone in your immediate family had cancerespecially if they had it youngyou may need to start regular screenings earlier. Talk to your doctor about your risks and concerns. This is a challenging time in our country, given everything that is going on with the pandemic, Dr. Roth says. Unfortunately, during these challenging times, many folks have abandoned or not paid as much attention to their health and well-being. Dont skip your appointments in an effort to stay safe. You wont ultimately be doing your health any favors.

Reducing Your Risk And Other Possible Causes

You might have heard of other possible causes of cancer. Stories about potential causes are often in the media and it isnt always clear which ideas are supported by evidence.

We havent included them here, either because there is no evidence about them or it is less clear.

  • A pooled analysis of thyroid cancer incidence following radiotherapy for childhood cancer LHS Veiga and others

  • Cancer. Principles and practice of oncology VT De Vita, S Hellman and SA RosenbergLippincott, Williams and Wilkins, 2018

  • The fraction of cancer attributable to known risk factors in England, Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland, and the UK overall in 2015KF Brown and othersBritish Journal of Cancer, 2018. 118, Pages 1130-1141

  • Family History of Cancer and Risk of Sporadic Differentiated Thyroid Carcinoma

    L Xu and others

  • Papillary thyroid cancer: Clinical features and prognosis

    R Tuttle and others

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Brain And Spinal Cord Tumors

There are many types of brain and spinal cord tumors, and the treatment and outlook for each is different. In children, most brain tumors start in the lower parts of the brain, such as the cerebellum or brain stem . Adults are more likely to develop tumors in upper parts of the brain. Spinal cord tumors are less common than brain tumors in all age groups.

Brain tumors can cause headaches, nausea, vomiting, blurred or double vision, dizziness, seizures, trouble walking or handling objects, and other symptoms.

The Potential Downside Of Finding More Thyroid Cancers

Cancer: Visual Guide to Thyroid Cancer

Like other cancers, thyroid cancer isnt one disease. There are several different types of thyroid cancer , and each type can have very different prognoses. For example, few people with anaplastic thyroid cancer, a very rare but aggressive type, will live for even a year. But almost everyone diagnosed with a small papillary thyroid cancer will be alive 5 years after diagnosis.

In fact, past autopsy studies have shown that many people die withnot froma small papillary thyroid cancer.

You can die with a cancer never knowing you had it, Dr. Davies said. If these cancers are found by chance, any intervention can potentially be overtreatmentthat is, therapy for a cancer that would have stayed the same or sometimes even gotten smaller, and never caused any symptoms.

And overtreatment not only carries the risk of side effects without any benefit to the patient, but it can also include substantial financial costs.

The most common side effect from surgery to remove part or all of the thyroid gland is a lifelong need for thyroid hormone replacement therapy, which can have its own side effects. Most people feel fine, but some might not feel as well as they did before surgery, Dr. Haymart said.

Surgery to remove thyroid cancer also has the potential to damage vocal cord functions or nearby glands that control calcium levels in the body, she explained.

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What Is The Surgical Treatment For Pediatric Dtc

The initial therapy for all types of thyroid cancer is surgery . The extent of surgery will depend on the location and number of nodules, a history of autoimmune thyroid disease, and the FNA biopsy results of the nodule and lymph nodes. Either a total thyroidectomy or lobectomy will be recommended. Surgical removal of lymph nodes from behind the thyroid or lateral neck will be determined based on the FNA biopsy results. The goal is to have an accurate surgical plan based on pre-surgery imaging and FNA to decrease the need for more than one surgery. However, for some patients, a second surgery is unavoidable. For all children, referral to a center with experienced thyroid surgeons is important in an effort to reduce complications.

After surgery, children who have their entire thyroid removed will need to take thyroid hormone for the rest of their lives . Children that have half of the thyroid removed may also need follow-up testing to ensure that the remaining thyroid tissue is producing adequate amounts of thyroid hormone.

Thyroid Cancer On The Rise Among Young Women

The prevalence of thyroid cancer is on the rise and is increasingly more common in young women. The fifth most common cancer in women, and 12th overall among both men and women, it is also one of the most treatable, with a five-year survival rate of 98.1 percent.

While thyroid nodules occur in up to 50 percent of people by age 60, only about 5 to 10 percent end up being cancer, and most are papillary cancer, which is usually slow-growing and very curable, says Whitney Goldner, MD, Nebraska Medicine endocrinologist.

Most people with thyroid cancer do not have symptoms, however, sometimes a painless nodule in the neck, or a swollen or enlarged lymph node may be one of your first signs. Other possible symptoms include a hoarse voice, pressure in the neck, or difficulty swallowing. Any of these symptoms warrant a visit to your doctor to be evaluated, says Dr. Goldner.

Because many nodules cannot be felt, diagnostic tests will generally include an ultrasound of the neck and thyroid and a blood test to evaluate the function of your thyroid. The majority of thyroid cancers are typically found incidentally either during a neck exam or imaging of the neck for unrelated reasons due to the lack of symptoms, notes Dr. Goldner.

Got a Suspicious Bump? Get it Checked!

Some patients may be candidates for a minimally invasive surgical technique called roboticassisted thyroid surgery.

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What Is Thyroid Cancer

A few different types of cancer start in the thyroid a gland just above your collarbones in your neck which produces hormones.

The most common type is called papillary carcinoma, which tends to affect younger people, especially women.

Treatment for thyroid cancer has a high success rate. But its still really important to get checked out if you have any symptoms youre worried about.

Thyroid Cancer Symptoms Diagnosis And Treatments

Frequently Searched Questions | Young Adult Cancer

According to the National Cancer Institute, there are over 56,000 new cases of thyroid cancer in the US each year, and the majority of those diagnosed are papillary thyroid cancerthe most common type of thyroid cancer. Females are more likely to have thyroid cancer at a ratio of 3:1. Thyroid cancer can occur in any age group, although it is most common after age 30, and its aggressiveness increases significantly in older patients. Approximately 1.2 percent of all men and women will be diagnosed with thyroid cancer during the course of their lifetime.

This article will highlight some common thyroid cancer signs and symptoms as well as thyroid cancer prognosis and treatments.

In this Article:

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How Is Thyroid Cancer Treated

To treat thyroid cancer, an ear, nose, and throat surgeon will remove part or all of the thyroid gland.

After thyroid surgery, children may need to take thyroid hormone pills. These replace the hormones the body can’t make without the thyroid gland.

Doctors may recommend a radioactive iodine scan and therapy to destroy any remaining thyroid cells after the surgery.

How Is Thyroid Cancer Managed Or Treated

Treatments for thyroid cancer depend on the tumor size and whether the cancer has spread. Treatments include:

  • Surgery: Surgery is the most common treatment for thyroid cancer. Depending on the tumors size and location, your surgeon may remove part of the thyroid gland or all of the gland . Your surgeon also removes any nearby lymph nodes where cancer cells have spread.
  • Radioiodine therapy: With radioiodine therapy, you swallow a pill or liquid containing a higher dose of radioactive iodine than whats used in a diagnostic radioiodine scan. The radioiodine shrinks and destroys the diseased thyroid gland along with cancer cells. Dont be alarmed this treatment is very safe. Your thyroid gland absorbs almost all of the radioiodine. The rest of your body has minimal radiation exposure.
  • Radiation therapy: Radiation kills cancer cells and stops them from growing. External radiation therapy uses a machine to deliver strong beams of energy directly to the tumor site. Internal radiation therapy involves placing radioactive seeds in or around the tumor.
  • Chemotherapy: Intravenous or oral chemotherapy drugs kill cancer cells and stops cancer growth. Very few patients diagnosed with thyroid cancer will ever need chemotherapy.
  • Hormone therapy: This treatment blocks the release of hormones that can cause cancer to spread or come back.

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Cancer In Adolescents And Young Adults


Cancer in adolescents and young adults is cancer which occurs in those between the ages of 15 and 39. This occurs in about 70,000 people a year in the United Statesaccounting for about 5 percent of cancers. This is about six times the number of cancers diagnosed in children ages 014. Globally, nearly 1 million young adults between the ages of 20 and 39 were diagnosed with cancer in 2012, and more than 350,000 people in this age range died from cancer.

Young adults are more likely than either younger children or older adults to be diagnosed with certain cancers, such as Hodgkin lymphoma, testicular cancer, and some types of sarcomas. In adolescents and young adults 15 to 24 years old, lymphoma, testicular cancer, and thyroid cancer are the most common types, while among 25- to 39-year-olds, breast cancer and melanoma are more common.

How Can I Prevent Thyroid Cancer

10 Tips for Preventing Cancer in Young Adults

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.

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After Treatment: Survivorship Care

For many young people, the completion of treatment is something to celebrate. However, this time may also bring new challenges. You may worry that cancer will return or struggle to get used to new routines. Some young people enter this new phase feeling stronger, whereas others are more fragile. Most young people say the transition after treatment took longer and was more challenging than they anticipated. While most of the side effects that you had during treatment will go away, long-term side effects, such as fatigue, may take time to go away. Other side effects, called late effects, may not occur until months or even years after treatment.

Although follow-up care is important for all survivors, it is especially important for young adults. These check-ups can both reassure you and help to prevent and/or treat medical and psychological problems. Some young adults receive follow-up care at the hospital where they were treated, and others see specialists at late effect clinics. Talk with your health care team to learn what follow-up care you should receive and about possible places to receive it.

Two important documents to get written copies of, and to discuss with your doctor, include:

Studies have found that many young adult cancer survivors are often unaware of or underestimate their risk for late effects. Learn more about issues related to survivorship, and questions to ask your doctor, in our follow-up medical care section.

Thyroid Cancer And Chemotherapy

Thyroid cancer is unique among cancers. In fact, thyroid cells are unique among all cells of the human body. They are the only cells that have the ability to absorb iodine. Iodine is required for thyroid cells to produce thyroid hormone, so they absorb it out of the bloodstream and concentrate it inside the cell.

The most common thyroid cancers are made up of cells that retain this ability to absorb and concentrate iodine. This provides a perfect “targeted” strategy.

Radioactive Iodine is given to the patients with certain types of thyroid cancers called differentiated thyroid cancers following complete removal of their thyroid gland. These differentiated thyroid cancers include the most common thyroid cancers of papillary thyroid cancer and follicular thyroid cancers. If there are any normal thyroid cells or any remaining thyroid cancer cells in the patient’s body , then these cells will absorb and concentrate the radioactive iodine.

Since most other cells of our bodies cannot absorb the toxic iodine, they remain unharmed. The thyroid cancer cells, however, will concentrate the poisonous radioactive iodine within themselves and the radioactivity destroys the cell from withinno sickness, hair loss, nausea, diarrhea, or pain. Some normal cells such as your saliva glands, tear glands, breast tissue and bone marrow also will absorb some iodine and receive some potential risk of damage.

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Overview Of Typical Thyroid Cancer Treatment

  • Thyroid cancer is usually diagnosed by sticking a needle into a thyroid nodule or removal of a worrisome thyroid nodule by a surgeon.
  • The thyroid nodule is looked at under a microscope by a pathologist who will then decide if the nodule is benign or malignant .
  • The pathologist decides the type of thyroid cancer: papillary, follicular, mixed papillary-follicular, medullary, or anaplastic.
  • The patient must be comprehensively evaluated with a thorough high-resolution ultrasound. Not only must the thyroid be completely examined. But the entire lymph nodes of the neck need to be examined to determine whether there is any spread to lymph nodes. Any suspicious lymph nodes must be biopsied prior to surgery so that the correct surgical procedure can be done the first time! You can find out more about the importance of high-resolution ultrasound in the evaluation of your thyroid nodule or cancer your in this video on thyroid nodules.

The entire thyroid cancer must be surgically removed sometimes with just partial removal of the thyroid gland or total removal of the thyroid gland. With the use of high-resolution ultrasound before your operation and by expert inspection by your surgeon during your operation, the lymph nodes in the neck are examined to see if lymph nodes also need to be removed.

Recurrence Of Thyroid Cancer

Thyroid Cancer – Know the signs

Although thyroid cancer recurrence is not common, there are many treatment options available if it happens. If a cancer recurrence is detected in the neck lymph nodes, the best course of action is usually an operation to remove the affected node or additional treatment with RAI ablation. In order to determine the best treatment for recurrent thyroid cancer, it is critical to work with an experienced team of thyroid specialists.

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What Is The Follow

Lifelong follow-up is essential for all children with thyroid cancer because thyroid cancer can recur years after successful initial treatment. These follow-up visits include a careful history, physical examination, blood tests, and imaging that may include ultrasound of the neck, chest CT scan and/or nuclear medicine whole body scans. Visits and blood tests are typically every 3 months after the initial treatment for the first 1 to 2 years, with decreasing frequency if the results are consistent with remission from disease. Repeat imaging is usually on a 6 month interval, decreasing to every year or longer if remission is achieved. More frequent surveillance is continued if there is any concern that the cancer is still present or is progressing.

For the patient who has had a total thyroidectomy, he or she will need to take thyroid hormone for the rest of his/her life to replace the hormone the thyroid produced. During this active surveillance time, many patients will be placed on higher doses of levothyroxine to keep the TSH below the lower end of the normal range for this measurement . This is a very important part of treatment as we do not want any remaining cancer cells to be stimulated to grow by having an elevated thyroid stimulating hormone . The dose may be decreased if signs or symptoms of hyperthyroidism develop as well as after your provider is comfortable that the cancer is gone .


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