Thyroid Cancer

  • Overview


    Thyroid cancer occurs when the cells of the thyroid gland grow and divide in a disorderly way.

    The four main types are:

    • Papillary thyroid cancer
    • Follicular thyroid cancer
    • Medullary thyroid cancer
    • Anaplastic thyroid cancer

    Cancer Council NSW

    Information extracted from the Cancer Council NSW website and reproduced with permission.

    http://www.cancercouncil.com.au/thyroid-cancer/

    © Cancer Council NSW 2014


    Symptoms


    Thyroid cancer usually develops slowly, without many obvious signs or symptoms. However, some people experience one or more of the following:

    • a painless lump in the neck or throat, which may gradually get bigger
    • difficulty swallowing or breathing
    • a hoarse voice
    • swollen lymph glands in the neck, which may slowly grow in size over months or years
    • gastrointestinal changes, such as diarrhoea and constipation.

    Having a painless lump in the neck is the most common sign. However, thyroid lumps, known as nodules, are relatively common and most are benign. In about 90% of cases, a thyroid nodule is a symptom of a goitre (a benign enlarged thyroid gland) or another condition affecting the head or neck.


    Cancer Council NSW

    Information extracted from the Cancer Council NSW website and reproduced with permission.

    http://www.cancercouncil.com.au/74931/b1000/thyroid-cancer-33/thyroid-cancer-symptoms/?pp=33943&cc=9541&&ct=26

    © Cancer Council NSW 2014


    Diagnosis


    • Blood test
    • Ultrasound
    • Biopsy
    • Radioisotope scan
    • CT scan
    • MRI scan
    • PET scan
  • Treatment


    The type of treatment you have depends on:

    • the type of cancer you have
    • the stage of the cancer
    • recommendations of your medical team
    • what you want.

     

    Surgery for thyroid cancer


    Treatment for thyroid cancer usually includes surgery, thyroid hormone replacement therapy and radioactive iodine treatment. Some people also need external radiotherapy or chemotherapy. Most people receive a combination of treatments.

    Surgery is the most common treatment for thyroid cancer.


    Cancer Council NSW

    Information extracted from the Cancer Council NSW website and reproduced with permission.

    http://www.cancercouncil.com.au/79023/cancer-information/cancer-treatment/types-of-treatment/surgery-for-thyroid-cancer/?pp=33945&cc=254&&ct=26

    © Cancer Council NSW 2012


    External radiotherapy for thyroid cancer


    External radiotherapy is the use of high-energy x-rays or electron beams to kill or damage cancer cells.

    Radiotherapy may be given after surgery, or as an additional treatment to radioactive iodine treatment if the cancer has spread to lymph nodes in the neck. It is commonly used to treat medullary or anaplastic thyroid cancer because radioactive iodine treatment is usually less effective for these types of cancers.

    You will not be radioactive after external radiotherapy treatment, so it is safe to be with other people.

    Before the treatment starts, you will have a planning (simulation) session. Your doctor will take CT scans to determine the precise area to be treated, and may make small marks or tattoos on your skin. This ensures the same part of your body is targeted during each treatment session.

    You may be fitted for a mask to wear during treatment. This will help make sure that you don’t move and the radiation beams always treat the correct areas of your neck.

    Radiotherapy is usually given five days a week over several weeks. Treatment sessions usually take about 10 minutes. During this time, you will be able to see and breathe through the mask. Let your doctor know if you are afraid of confined spaces (claustrophobic).


    Cancer Council NSW

    Information extracted from the Cancer Council NSW website and reproduced with permission.

    http://www.cancercouncil.com.au/79026/cancer-information/cancer-treatment/types-of-treatment/external-radiotherapy-for-thyroid-cancer/?pp=33945&cc=254&ct=26

    © Cancer Council NSW 2012


    Chemotherapy for thyroid cancer


    Chemotherapy is the use of drugs to kill or slow the growth of cancer cells. It is sometimes used to treat advanced thyroid cancer that is not responding to radioactive iodine treatment.

    The drugs are usually given by injection into a vein (intravenously). You will probably have several treatment sessions over a few weeks – your medical team will determine the schedule.


    Cancer Council NSW

    Information extracted from the Cancer Council NSW website and reproduced with permission.

    http://www.cancercouncil.com.au/79027/cancer-information/cancer-treatment/types-of-treatment/chemotherapy-for-thyroid-cancer/?pp=33945&cc=254&ct=26

    © Cancer Council NSW 2012


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