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How To Know If You Have Thyroid Cancer

All You Need To Know About Thyroid Cancer

I Have Thyroid Cancer

Symptoms of thyroid disease are relatively non-specific, says Mechanick, and do not necessarily have to be associated with a structural abnormality, such as a lump.

However, the most common tip-off to thyroid cancer is a mass in the neck. Its very rare that it would manifest itself in any other way, Mechanick said.

He adds, We generally dont see people presenting with advanced thyroid cancer with clinical deterioration the way you might with other forms of cancer. Some cancers, he says, such as pancreatic or gastric cancer, have common, telltale symptoms, including drastic weight loss.

People with a family history of under-active or overactive thyroid glands have a greater risk of developing thyroid problems themselves. People who have been exposed to radiation treatment in the head and neck or toxic radiation are also at risk.

Fortunately, thyroid cancer is slow-growing, and people infrequently succumb to it, said Mechanick. The cancer can often be treated with surgery or radioactive iodine treatment, and it rarely requires further therapy after that.

Prevention is only possible with early detection, which is why self-exams are so crucial for finding and treating thyroid diseases.

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.

References

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A Change In Calcium Levels

The parathyroid glands can be affected by thyroid surgery. These are small delicate glands that are right next to the thyroid gland. They help to control the level of calcium in your blood.

If the parathyroid glands are not working properly, your blood calcium levels can fall below normal. You will need to take calcium tablets and possibly extra vitamin D if this happens.

If you have a low calcium level in your blood, you may have twitching or jerking muscles . Contact your healthcare team if you have this. It is usually only temporary and the parathyroids normally start working again within 6 to 8 weeks of the operation. But low calcium levels can sometimes be permanent.

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What About Other Treatments That 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.

Hello Alapahmy Name Is Alla

Thyroid Cancer: A Visual Guide

Hello Alapah,

My name is Alla and I was diagnosed with PTC few months ago, I am scheduled to have surgery on 9/2, however, I did do BRAF mutation mark before surgery and was positive. Did you have BRAF done for you? How big was you nodule? How long has it been since you had your surgery? My understanding since I have BRAF my form as well more aggresive and can reccure between 1-5 years. Sorry to ask you all these questions, but I am very scared for my upcoming surgery, thinking am I better off leave it the way it is or fight for my life after they remove it and I have less chances of survival?

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The Often Overlooked Warning Signs Of Thyroid Cancer

July 22, 2020Cancer, Primary Care

The American Cancer Society estimates that in 2020, approximately 52,890 new cases of thyroid cancer will be diagnosed and that there will be approximately 2,180 deaths from thyroid cancer. While most thyroid cancer is found by accident, there are warning signs you should be aware of for a better chance of early detection.

What Is My Risk Of Getting It

There is no one thing that causes a person to get thyroid cancer. The following may contribute to thyroid cancer

  • exposure to large amounts of radiation
  • family history of either thyroid cancer or goitres
  • too little or too much iodine in a persons diet.

Having any of the above risk factors does not guarantee that someone will develop this type of cancer. In fact, thyroid cancer most often develops without many of these risk factors. You should see your doctor if you develop symptoms that do not go away.

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When To See A Doctor

If you feel a new swelling or lump in your neck, or if an imaging test incidentally reveals a thyroid growth, its important to schedule an appointment with your doctor right away.

During your appointment, your doctor will:

Depending on the results of these tests, your primary care or family doctor may refer you to a doctor 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 Doctor Discussion Guide

Get our printable guide for your next doctors 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.

How Serious Is My Cancer

Thyroid Cancer Symptoms & Early Warning Signs

If you have thyroid cancer, the doctor will want to find out how far it has spread. This is called staging. You may have heard other people say that their cancer was stage 1 or stage 2. Your doctor will want to find out the stage of your cancer to help decide what type of treatment is best for you.

The stage describes the spread of the cancer through the thyroid gland. It also tells if the cancer has spread to other organs of your body that are close by or far away.

Your cancer can be stage 1, 2, 3, or 4. The lower the number, the less the cancer has spread. A higher number, like stage 4, means a more serious cancer that has spread outside of the thyroid gland. Be sure to ask the doctor about the cancer stage and what it means for you.

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How Do I Know If The Thyroid Cancer Has Spread

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How Do I Know If I Have Thyroid Cancer

Thyroid cancer is unique since it can remain dormant for many years before symptoms appear. If you have any of the following symptoms, you should see a doctor immediately.

  • a lump or swelling in the front of the neck
  • swollen lymph nodes in the neck this can often take the form of a large mass in the neck or as multiple swollen nodes in the thyroid
  • hoarseness or other voice changes, including difficulty speaking in a normal voice
  • trouble swallowing or breathing
  • persistent pain in the throat or neck that does not go away
  • diarrhea

Although you should see your doctor if you are having any of these symptoms, it does not mean you have cancer. Tests for thyroid cancer include physical examinations a blood test, ultrasounds, thyroid screening or a laryngoscopy .

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Weakness And Aches In Muscles And Joints

Low thyroid hormone flips the metabolic switch toward catabolism, which is when the body breaks down body tissues like muscle for energy .

During catabolism, muscle strength decreases, potentially leading to feelings of weakness. The process of breaking down muscle tissue can also lead to aching .

Everyone feels weak once in a while. However, people with hypothyroidism are twice as likely to feel more weak than usual, compared to healthy people (

One study in 35 individuals with hypothyroidism showed that replacing low levels of thyroid hormone with a synthetic thyroid hormone called levothyroxine improved muscle strength and decreased aches and pains, compared to no treatment .

Another study showed a 25% improvement in the sense of physical well-being among patients receiving thyroid replacement .

Weakness and aches are normal following strenuous activity. However, new, and especially increasing, weakness or aching is a good reason to make an appointment with your physician.

Summary: Low levels of thyroid hormone slow down your metabolism and can cause painful muscle breakdown.

Types Of Thyroid Cancer And Incidence

Anaplastic Thyroid Cancer FAQs

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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How To Perform A Neck Check Self

A neck check is a simple procedure that can be done just about anywhere. If you have a glass of water and a mirror, youre ready to look for symptoms of thyroid disorders. Dr. Jeffrey Mechanick, clinical professor of Medicine, Endocrinology, Diabetes and Bone Disease at Mount Sinai School of Medicine and president of the AACE, provides some painless guidelines:

  • First, locate your thyroid gland, which is above your collarbone and below your larynx, or voice box. Dont confuse your thyroid with your Adams apple, which lies above the thyroid gland.
  • Keeping your focus on this part of the neck, tip your head back, then swallow a drink of water.
  • Look at your neck in the mirror while you swallow, checking for any static or moving bumps.
  • Types Of Thyroid Cancer

    There are 4 main types of thyroid cancer:

    • papillary carcinoma the most common type, accounting for about 8 in 10 cases it usually affects people under 40, particularly women
    • follicular carcinoma accounts for up to 1 in 10 cases and tends to affect middle-aged adults, particularly women
    • medullary thyroid carcinoma accounts for less than 1 in 10 cases unlike the other types, it can run in families
    • anaplastic thyroid carcinoma the rarest and most serious type, accounting for around 1 in 50 cases it usually affects people over the age of 60

    Papillary and follicular carcinomas are sometimes known as differentiated thyroid cancers. They tend to be easier to treat than the other types.

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    Thyroid Nodule Symptom # : A Sense That You Need To Swallow Something

    • What to do about it?
    • Like all thyroid nodules that cause symptoms, these patients need a thyroid ultrasound to look at the size, location, and characteristics of the thyroid, how many noduls are present, and where they are located. Often thyroid glands that are big wont have any ultrasound characteristics that are worrisome for cancer, so most of theses do not need a FNA thyroid needle biopsy. Thus big thyroids comprised of lots of nodules often dont need a biopsy, which is in direct contrast to nodules that are single, or those that can be seen or felt . However, if a thyroid is big enough that it is causing the patient to be aware of it, and it is causing symptoms of something stuck in the throat, then surgery is probably necessary. Remember, thyroid surgery isnt just for nodules that we think may be thyroid cancer, surgery is often necessary for benign, non-cancerous thyroid glands which are large and causing the patient symptoms. This situation is quite common. It is also important to know that large thyroid goiters, and nodules that are on the back side of the thyroid are often required to have a CAT scan, since these bigger thyroid glands are not seen as well with ultrasound. This is why you need a good endocrinologist who know which scan to order and which scans are not necessary. Remember, a large thyroid is called a goiter and we have an entire page on thyroid goiters.

    Is There A Way To Get A Better Idea Of Which Tumors Will Actually Grow

    Recurrent Thyroid Cancer – How Do We Know? What Do We Do?

    This is a very important question we are actively researching. The laboratories of James Fagin and Michael Berger are actively doing research to try to determine whether there is a genetic signature that would allow us to predict whats going to happen. If we can identify which mutations are important, we could just use a small needle to biopsy the cancer, analyze the genes, and be able to more accurately predict the likelihood that an individual cancer will progress.

    I think patients would find that kind of information very helpful in deciding whether to be watched or proceed to immediate surgery. So even though active surveillance is working well in the vast majority of our patients with very small papillary thyroid cancers, were trying to use our molecular research laboratories to give us an even clearer idea of which tumors will cause problems so we can give our patients the best option.

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    Papillary And Follicular Thyroid Cancer Stage Iv

    If you are at stage IV, it means the cancer has spread. Your doctor assigns the letters âA,â âBâ and âCâ to show how far.

    • Stage IVA The cancer has spread beyond your thyroid. It now is under your skin, or it affects your larynx, esophagus or trachea. A smaller tumor in more distant lymph nodes is also considered stage IVA.
    • Stage IVB The tumor has grown toward your spine or into nearby large blood vessels, like the carotid arteries. These carry blood to your brain, face, and neck. It might have also spread to your lymph nodes.
    • Stage IVC The cancer has spread beyond the thyroid, and to distant sites of the body. It may be in your lungs, bones, and lymph nodes.

    What Are The Signs And Symptoms Of Hyperthyroidism

    At first, you might not notice the signs or symptoms of hyperthyroidism. Symptoms usually begin slowly. But, over time, a faster metabolism can cause symptoms such as:

    • Weight loss, even if you eat the same or more food
    • Eating more than usual
    • Diarrhea or more bowel movements than normal
    • Fewer and lighter menstrual periods than normal
    • Changes in your eyes that can include bulging of the eyes, redness, or irritation

    Hyperthyroidism raises your risk for , a condition that causes weak bones that break easily. In fact, hyperthyroidism might affect your bones before you have any of the other symptoms of the condition. This is especially true of women who have gone through menopause or who are already at high risk of osteoporosis.

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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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    Early Signs Of Thyroid Problems

    All

    If you are experiencing changes in your weight, vision problems, or increased sensitivity to shifts in temperature, you might have a thyroid problem. Instead of ignoring these early warning signs, you should schedule an appointment at the Medical Transformation Center in Louisville, KY. We can use a variety of techniques to address your thyroid problems and improve your health.

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    How To Make Sure Sure You Are On The Right Dose

    If you have hypothyroidism, you must find the right type and dose of thyroid medication for you. Your doctor will determine your starting dose based on your age, underlying health conditions, and blood test results. Starting doses may vary. For example, some people begin at a full replacement dose of 1.7 mcg/kg/day. In contrast, others are started at low doses between 25mcg-50mcg/day and titrated up as necessary. It can take several weeks to determine if the amount is therapeutic or not.

    Once you find the right dose of thyroid medication, is it essential that you stay on that same dose and take it every day. You will also want to use the same brand continuously. Switching between generic and brand medications can change how your body responds to each type of medication. To remain stable on your thyroid medication, make sure that you know about things that can affect thyroid medication absorption.

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