Can You Have Thyroid Cancer With Normal Blood Tests?

Reviewed on 4/30/2021

Thyroid cancer is the abnormal growth and uninhibited multiplication of cells of the thyroid gland.
Thyroid cancer is the abnormal growth and uninhibited multiplication of cells of the thyroid gland.

Thyroid cancer is the abnormal growth and uninhibited multiplication of cells of the thyroid gland. It gradually deteriorates the function of healthy cells, leading to complications in the body. The thyroid gland is part of the endocrine system, which regulates hormones in the body. The thyroid gland absorbs iodine from the bloodstream to produce thyroid hormones, which control a person’s metabolic rate. A healthy thyroid gland is barely palpable. If a tumor develops in the thyroid, it is felt as a lump in the neck. A tumor can be cancerous or benign. A tumor is considered malignant when it can grow and spread to other parts of the body. There is no single blood test that can accurately diagnose thyroid cancer. The results of thyroid function tests (determining the serum T3 and T4 and thyroid-stimulating hormone level) are usually normal in most patients with thyroid cancer. Normal thyroid blood tests do not rule out thyroid cancer.

Tests to diagnose thyroid cancer

  • Tumor markers for thyroid cancers: These are the blood tests that detect certain substances. High levels of these substances are often seen in different types of thyroid cancers. However, these tests are not very sensitive and specific ways to diagnose thyroid cancer. They can be used during the treatment of cancer to see if the treatment is working.
  • Table. The blood marker for thyroid cancers

Tumor markers

Type of thyroid cancer

Carcinoembryonic antigen (CEA)

Medullary thyroid cancer (MTC)

Calcitonin

Medullary thyroid cancer (MTC)

Thyroglobulin

All types of thyroid cancer

Understanding the anatomy and function of the thyroid gland

The thyroid is a small, butterfly-shaped gland situated at the base of the front of the neck, just below Adam's apple.

Cells of the thyroid gland

Thyroid cancer starts when healthy cells in the thyroid change and grow out of control, forming a mass called a tumor. The thyroid gland contains two types of cells:

  • Follicular cells: These cells are responsible for the production of thyroid hormone. Thyroid hormone controls the basic metabolism of the body, i.e., how quickly calories are burned. This can affect weight, slow down or speed up the heartbeat, raise or lower body temperature, influence how quickly food moves through the digestive tract, control the way muscles contract and control how quickly dying cells are replaced.
  • C cells: These special cells of the thyroid make calcitonin, which is the hormone that participates in calcium metabolism.

What causes thyroid cancer?

Thyroid cancer is a rare type of cancer that affects the thyroid gland. It can occur in age group, although it is most common after 30 years of age, and its aggressiveness increases in older patients. Women are twice as more likely to develop it than men. The most common cause is the change that happens in the deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) inside thyroid cells, which makes them grow uncontrollably and produce a lump. Other factors that increase the risk include

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References
Sharma PK. Thyroid Cancer. Medscape. https://emedicine.medscape.com/article/851968-overview

American Thyroid Association. Thyroid Cancer (Papillary and Follicular). https://www.thyroid.org/thyroid-cancer/

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