Who it affects
Thyroid cancer is very rare and accounts for less than 1% of cancer
related deaths. There are various types of thyroid cancer, e.g.
follicular, papillary, Hurthle cell, medullary and anaplastic.
What gland is involved
The thyroid gland lies in the front part of the neck just under skin and
below the thyroid cartilage (Adam`s apple).
Thyroid cancer may present as a visible swelling below the skin in the
thyroid. This swelling generally enlarges over time. In other patients
thyroid cancer may be detected by chance, e.g. during a scan for another
reason or when the thyroid is removed surgically for another medical
To confirm a diagnosis of thyroid cancer, it is necessary obtain a
sample of tissue. This may be obtained through a fine needle aspiration.
Ultrasound and isotope scans may provide helpful information, but are
not usually diagnostic.
Malignant lesions are removed surgically. The extent of surgery is
dependent on the type of thyroid cancer and degree of spread (if at
all). Most patients will also receive radioiodine therapy to ablate any
remaining thyroid tissue and eliminate any residual cancer.
Triiodothyronine or levothyroxine therapy is often used after surgery to
suppress TSH production from the pitutary gland. TSH stimulates the
growth of certain thyroid cells and therefore potentially the growth of
certain thyroid tumours. The measurement of thyroglobulin (a protein
produced solely by the thyroid) is frequently used as a means to monitor
recurrence of thyroid cancer.
This is dependent on factors such as the type of thyroid cancer, the
degree of spread (if any) and the success of surgery.
Dr A Qureshi
is a consultant endocrinologist and diabetologist who consults at The
Harley Street Clinic, London, UK. He specialises in disorders such as
hypothyroidism, hyperthyroidism, hyperparathyroidism, hypopituitarism,
Addison’s disease, hypertension and diabetes.
To arrange an appointment, please call:
APPOINTMENTS : ++44 (0)7733
The information contained in this website is general and not specific
endocrine or diabetes advice.
Patients should always consultant their physician or an endocrinology
specialist. For further details please read the full disclaimer.