Thyroid Cancer

What is thyroid cancer?

Thyroid cancer is rare cancer that affects the thyroid gland, a small gland at the base of the neck. The thyroid gland is responsible for producing hormones which regulate the heart rate, blood pressure, body temperature and weight.

What are thyroid cancer symptoms?

The most common presenting symptom of thyroid cancer is a painless lump in the neck. Other symptoms usually indicate more advanced disease and include:

The diagnosis of thyroid cancer depends on a good history, the interpretation of the thyroid ultrasound findings and most importantly a fine needle aspiration of the lump to obtain cells for evaluation by a cytopathologist. In some cases, surgery might be necessary to confirm or exclude cancer.

There are four subtypes of thyroid cancer:

What are the treatment options?

Once cancer has been diagnosed, the treatment will consist of surgery followed by radioactive iodine.

Surgery for thyroid cancer will entail either removing half of the thyroid gland (thyroid lobectomy) or all of the thyroid gland (total thyroidectomy). Surgery is done under general anaesthesia and will leave a small scar at the base of the neck. The following complications may occur after a thyroidectomy:

Radioactive iodine treatment: After having thyroid surgery for cancer, Dr Cooper will refer you to an oncologist who may recommend a course of radioactive iodine treatment to help destroy any remaining cancer cells in your body and prevent cancer from recurring.