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Thyroid Cancer (cont.)

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How is thyroid cancer staging determined?

Thyroid cancer, like most others, is staged based upon three criteria:

  • T = how large the main tumor is when it is found
  • N = the presence of cancer in lymph nodes and their location
  • M = whether the cancer has spread or metastasized to other parts of the body. Thyroid cancer has been known to spread locally or to distant parts of the body including lungs and bone.

Staging from I to IV, including subgroups, is different for each type of cancer and helps predict outcome and survival. There are also different staging considerations for patients older or younger than age 45 for papillary and follicular thyroid cancers.

What kinds of health care specialists treat thyroid cancer?

A variety of physicians may be involved in the evaluation, diagnosis, and treatment of thyroid cancer. Primary care professionals may help coordinate care and may be the persons who make the initial diagnosis of thyroid gland abnormalities. Endocrinologists (physicians specializing in endocrine disorders) are specialists who specifically care for the thyroid. Surgeons may operate on the thyroid gland and thyroid cancer; these may be general surgeons or those with special training in head and neck surgery. Interventional radiologists may help with aspiration to obtain tissue samples, but this is also frequently performed by endocrinologists. Radiation oncologists, who are trained to provide radiation therapy treatments, may occasionally be asked to provide treatment. The care of thyroid cancer requires a team approach, but the members vary depending upon geographic location and availability of specialists.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 3/24/2017



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