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How Do You Know If You Have Thyroid Cancer

Whats The Treatment For A Thyroid Nodule

I Have Thyroid Cancer

Even a benign growth on your thyroid gland can cause symptoms. If a thyroid nodule is causing voice or swallowing problems, your doctor may recommend treating it with surgery to remove all or part of the thyroid gland.

If the doctor recommends removal of your thyroid , you may not even have to worry about a scar on your neck. Some patients are good candidates for a scarless thyroid procedure, where the surgeon reaches the thyroid through an incision made on the inside of your lower lip.

A newer alternative that the doctor can use to treat benign nodules in an office setting is called radiofrequency ablation . Radiofrequency ablation uses a probe to access the benign nodule under ultrasound guidance, and then treats it with electrical current and heat that shrinks the nodule. Its simple: Most people treated with RFA are back to their normal activities the next day with no problems.

The Johns Hopkins Thyroid and Parathyroid Center

Our thyroid experts in the head and neck endocrine surgery team diagnose and treat patients with a variety of thyroid and parathyroid conditions. Learn about what we offer at our center.

Difficulties Swallowing And Chronic Cough

These two symptoms are showing you that you might have lung, throat cancer or leukemia. These are common symptoms for these 3 types of ailments that you need to be careful of. Lung cancer symptoms are precisely these two: the chronic cough is accompanied with mucus and difficulty swallowing. Obviously, throat cancer as well: when something is growing on your throat, difficulty swallowing would be the first symptom.

Lab Tests Of Biopsy Samples

In some cases, doctors might use molecular tests to look for specific gene changes in the cancer cells. This might be done for different reasons:

  • If FNA biopsy results arent clear, the doctor might order lab tests on the samples to see if there are changes in the BRAF or RET/PTC genes. Finding one of these changes makes thyroid cancer much more likely.
  • For some types of thyroid cancer, molecular tests might be done to see if the cancer cells have changes in certain genes , which could mean that certain targeted drugs might be helpful in treating the cancer.

These tests can be done on tissue taken during a biopsy or surgery for thyroid cancer. If the biopsy sample is too small and all the molecular tests cant be done, the testing may also be done on blood that is taken from a vein, just like a regular blood draw.

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How Does The Doctor Know I Have Thyroid Cancer

Most thyroid cancers are found when patients see a doctor because of new neck lumps . Sometimes doctors find neck lumps during a physical exam. Yet other times thyroid cancer may be found during an ultrasound test for other health problems.

If signs are pointing to thyroid cancer, more tests will be done.

Every Medullary Thyroid Cancer Patient Should Have The Following Examinations Included In Generally Every Follow

How to Do a Thyroid Neck Check
  • physical examination: This will include examination of the neck and thyroid bed and examination of the voice box if there is concern over changes in voice or swallowing
  • Ultrasound of the neck
  • Blood tests for :

1) Free T4 level

This is the blood level of the major hormone normally produced by the thyroid gland. It is also a direct measurement of the most commonly prescribed thyroid hormone pill, levothyroxine. The dose of thyroid hormone pill will be based upon the blood thyroid stimulating hormone level described below.

2) TSH

The risk of the medullary thyroid cancer coming back or spreading has likely no relationship, whatsoever, to the TSH level since the parafollicular C cells of the thyroid do not have a receptor for TSH . Therefore, the goal for initial TSH level usually be 0.5 to 2.0 mU/L, which is within the normal range. Obviously, the endocrinologist also wants their patients to feel well and normal and thus some adjustments are sometimes made to optimize patients sense of well being.

3) Calcitonin

  • CEA

CEA is a protein produced by neuroendocrine carcinomas, the category to which medullary thyroid cancer belongs. Other neuroendocrine derived normal cells of the body also produce this protein thus it is not anticipated that CEA will ever be unpredictable.

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What Kind Of Treatment Will I Need

There are many ways to treat thyroid cancer but surgery is the main treatment. The treatment plan thats best for you will depend on:

  • The stage of the cancer
  • The chance that a type of treatment will cure the cancer or help in some way
  • Your age
  • Other health problems you have
  • Your feelings about the treatment and the side effects that come with it

Depending on the type and stage of your thyroid cancer, you may need more than 1 type of treatment.

What Is Thyroid Cancer

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.

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Signs Of Thyroid Cancer Recurrence

About 35 percent of individuals who have thyroid cancer experience a recurrence within 40 years of initial treatment, and two thirds of the recurrences occur 10 years after their treatment, according to the Thyroid Community. While a patient may show symptoms of a recurrence, oftentimes a patient may show no outward signs the cancer has returned.

Signs

Signs that thyroid cancer may include pain in the neck that may radiate up to the ears, coughing, trouble swallowing, breathing problems and hoarseness when talking.

Lumps

Abnormal lumps or bumps under the skin can be a trouble sign. Patients may also notice swelling around or in the neck or in the lymph nodes. This occurs because the glands are so close to the skin.

Thyroglobulin Tests

Doctors can test thyroglobulin protein levels in the blood. After treatment, there should be no thyroglobulin present. Doctors may test at three month or 12 month intervals. If they see an increase in this protein, they may do further tests to determine whether the cancer has recurred. this protein is measured after your thyroid surgery to investigate if the cancer has returned.

No symptoms

Reasons for Return

Thyroid cancer can re-emerge if microscopic cancer cells spread beyond the thyroid before initial treatment. It can also recur if some pieces of thyroid tissue werent removed during surgery or cancer is in the bones, lungs or lymph nodes.

Know The Signs Of Thyroid Conditions

Thyroid Cancer Symptoms & Early Warning Signs

If your thyroid gland doesn’t produce the right amount of hormones your body needs, you develop thyroid disease. An overactive thyroid releases too much thyroid hormone.

Known as hyperthyroidism, this condition causes your metabolism to speed up. When this happens you may experience:

  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Muscle weakness

On the other hand, hypothyroidism occurs when your body doesn’t produce enough thyroid hormone, causing your metabolism to slow down. When this happens you may experience:

  • Depression
  • Infertility
  • Trouble with concentration and memory

With hypothyroidism or hyperthyroidism, the thyroid can also become enlarged, so much so that you can feel or see it. When this happens, it’s called a goiter.

Some goiters are diffuse, which means the entire thyroid gland is enlarged. In other cases, goiters are nodular or the thyroid has bumps in it. In most cases, lumps or bumps in the thyroid gland, known as thyroid nodules, are benign. In fact, thyroid nodules are cancerous in fewer than 10 percent of cases.

There are other reasons why your thyroid gland might be larger than usual, such as an imbalance or changes in hormone levels from not getting enough iodine in your diet. Although the thyroid gland can also develop tumors, most of the time the cause isn’t cancer.

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How Common Is Thyroid Cancer

Thyroid cancer is a rare form of cancer, accounting for less than 1% of all cancer cases in the UK. Each year, around 2,700 people are diagnosed with thyroid cancer in the UK.

It’s most common in people aged 35 to 39 years and in those aged 70 years or over.

Women are 2 to 3 times more likely to develop thyroid cancer than men. It’s unclear why this is, but it may be a result of the hormonal changes associated with the female reproductive system.

Causes Of Thyroid Cancer

Thyroid cancer happens when there’s a change to the DNA inside thyroid cells which causes them to grow uncontrollably and produce a lump.

It’s not usually clear what causes this change, but there are a number of things that can increase your risk.

These include:

  • other thyroid conditions, such as an inflamed thyroid or goitre but not an overactive thyroid or underactive thyroid
  • a family history of thyroid cancer your risk is higher if a close relative has had thyroid cancer
  • radiation exposure in childhood such as radiotherapy
  • a bowel condition called familial adenomatous polyposis
  • acromegaly a rare condition where the body produces too much growth hormone

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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.

Things You Should Know If You Have A Thyroidectomy

How Do You Know If You Have Brest Cancer

I’ve treated hundreds of thyroid patients in my clinical practice and I’ve run into many patients without a thyroid.

These patients are certainly more difficult to treat than run of the mill thyroid patients but I’ve learned much in my years of treating them.

While they are more difficult, it’s still possible to help them lose weight and feel better.

It just takes the right approach…

With that in mind, here are 5 things that I think you should know if you’ve had your thyroid removed based on THIS experience.

#1. You are now HYPOTHYROID.

This is probably the single most important thing that you understand if your thyroid has been removed.

Once your thyroid is removed you are now considered to be HYPOTHYROID.

It doesn’t matter WHY your thyroid was removed, once it is removed you now have a sluggish thyroid.

I don’t care if your thyroid was removed because you WERE hyperthyroid .

Thyroid removal is considered to be a cure for hyperthyroidism but once your thyroid is out you’ve effectively traded hyperthyroidism for hypothyroidism.

What does it mean to be hypothyroid?

It means that you are reliant upon thyroid medication.

And because doctors do a terrible job at replacing lost thyroid hormone once the thyroid has been removed, you will probably always feel a little bit hypothyroid .

This is so important because many people will read my blog posts and if they’ve had their thyroid removed they will ask if it applies to them.

#2. T4 isn’t enough by itself for you.

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Thyroid Cancer: What Women Should Know

The symptoms start slowly. Fatigue is the most common. There might bechanges in hair, nails or skin, and other vague complaints that could becaused by aging, diet, stress or dozens of other factors.

Women in the prime of their lives, busy with work and families, may noteven notice. When a doctor finally diagnoses an underactivethyroiddue to cancer, it often comes as a shock.

Jonathon Russell, M.D., assistant professor ofOtolaryngology Head and Neck Surgeryat The Johns Hopkins Hospital, says, Typicalthyroid cancerpatients are women between the ages of 30 and 60younger than many peoplewould think. Theyre likely to put off getting seen by a doctor and mayblame their symptoms on other causes.

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.

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Chronic Cough Or Shortness Of Breath

In rare situations, a tumor may grow so large that it presses on your esophagus, causing shortness of breath or a chronic cough. That may be a sign you have a more aggressive form of thyroid cancer that has started to invade other structures, Ross says.

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What Questions Should I Ask My Doctor

My Experience with Thyroid Cancer

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.

References

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What Will Happen After Treatment

Most people do very well after treatment, but you may need follow-up care for the rest of your life. This is because most thyroid cancers grow slowly and can come back even 10 to 20 years after treatment. Your cancer care team will tell you what tests you need and how often they should be done.

Be sure to go to all of these follow-up visits. You will have exams, blood tests, and maybe other tests to see if the cancer has come back. At first, your visits may be every 3 to 6 months. Then, the longer youre cancer-free, the less often the visits are needed.

Sometimes treatments may not cure your cancer. You many need to keep getting treatment and care. From time to time tests will be done to see how your treatment is working.

Having cancer and dealing with treatment can be hard, but it can also be a time to look at your life in new ways. Call us at 1-800-227-2345 or talk to your cancer care team to find out what you can do to feel better.

You cant change the fact that you have cancer. What you can change is how you live the rest of your life.

Types Of Thyroid Cancer And Incidence

Thyroid cancers are relatively uncommon. In the United States, its the tenth most common type of cancer. Its about one-tenth as common as breast cancer, and one-fifth as common as lung cancer.

Thyroid cancers are classified according to the appearance of the cancerous cells. Cancerous cells that look like healthy cells are called well-differentiated cells. Well-differentiated cells grow at a slower rate than undifferentiated cells.

The types of thyroid cancer include:

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What To Know About 4 Symptoms That Could Signal This Type Of Highly Curable Cancer

by Michelle Crouch, AARP, July 15, 2021| 0

En espaƱol | You know it’s important to check your skin for unusual moles that could be melanoma and, if you’re a woman, to check your breasts for lumps that could signal breast cancer. But did you know you should also see a doctor if you notice any unusual swelling in your neck?

That’s a classic symptom of thyroid cancer, says Jonathon Russell, M.D., director of the Multi-Disciplinary Thyroid Tumor Center at Johns Hopkins Medicine.

About 45,000 Americans are diagnosed with thyroid cancer every year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention .

Thyroid cancer can occur at any age, but the risk peaks for women when they’re in their 40s or 50s, while most men are diagnosed in their 60s or 70s, according to the American Cancer Society. Women are three times more likely than men to develop thyroid cancer.

Until recently, thyroid cancer was the most rapidly increasing cancer in the U.S., largely due to better detection.

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