Thyroid Cancer (cont.)
Benjamin Wedro, MD, FACEP, FAAEM
Dr. Ben Wedro practices emergency medicine at Gundersen Clinic, a regional trauma center in La Crosse, Wisconsin. His background includes undergraduate and medical studies at the University of Alberta, a Family Practice internship at Queen's University in Kingston, Ontario and residency training in Emergency Medicine at the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center.
Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD
Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.
In this Article
- Thyroid cancer facts*
- What is the thyroid?
- What is thyroid cancer?
- What causes thyroid cancer?
- What are the risk factors for thyroid cancer?
- What are the symptoms and signs of thyroid cancer?
- What are thyroid nodules?
- What are the different types of thyroid cancer?
- How do health care professionals diagnose thyroid cancer?
- How is thyroid cancer staging determined?
- What kinds of health care specialists treat thyroid cancer?
- What is the medical treatment for thyroid cancer?
- Thyroid hormone
- Radioactive iodine (radioiodine)
- What kind of support is available for those with thyroid cancer?
- What is the prognosis for patients with thyroid cancer? What is the survival rate for patients with thyroid cancer?
- What is the likelihood of thyroid cancer recurrence?
- Is it possible to prevent thyroid cancer?
- What is the latest research on thyroid cancer?
- Find a local Oncologist in your town
What are the symptoms and signs of thyroid cancer?
Most often, a thyroid cancer is found when the patient or the patient's health care professional feels (palpates) a lump or nodule in the lower front of the neck where the thyroid is located. It is most often painless and found incidentally, by chance. Occasionally, an enlarged lymph node may be palpated by itself in the more lateral neck or in addition to a thyroid nodule.
Most patients have normal thyroid function at the time the nodule is discovered and have no symptoms related to hyper or hypothyroidism.
It the tumor grows locally, it may cause symptoms such as difficulty swallowing food (dysphagia) if it compresses the esophagus (which is rare) or hoarseness if the recurrent laryngeal nerve that is located near the thyroid gland -- which controls the vocal cords -- is invaded and causes vocal cord paralysis.
In children, lumps in the neck are found frequently. Most often they are not in the thyroid gland itself. Aside from swollen lymph nodes associated with infections like pharyngitis, strep throat, or an ear infection (otitis media), lumps should not be ignored. In pediatric patients, thyroid cancer is the third most common solid tumor malignancy and the most common endocrine malignancy. The first sign might be a lump that is felt in the thyroid gland.
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