Make an appointment
Make an appointment

Home   »   Conditions  »  Thyroid Cancer

What Is Thyroid Cancer?

Thyroid cancer is an abnormal growth of thyroid gland tissue that usually arises from a pre-existing thyroid nodule.

What Causes Cancer Of The Thyroid Gland?

Like other organ systems, the thyroid may undergo certain changes at its DNA level that leads to the production of cancerous cells. These changes can be caused by exposure to radiation, particularly over prolonged periods of time, or during childhood. Patients that have a history of head and neck radiation for other illness such as lymphoma or head and neck cancer may develop thyroid cancer many years later. Thyroid cancer has risk factors such as gender, radiation exposure, and genetics. Thyroid cancer can also be caused by inherited conditions. Individuals with a history or family history of familial medullary thyroid cancer, multiple endocrine neoplasia (MEN) type 2A, or MEN type 2B. Most times however, the cause of thyroid cancer is unknown.

What Are The Signs And Symptoms Of Thyroid Cancer?

Thyroid cancer is usually discovered incidentally. This means that people undergoing testing for other conditions (e.g. a CT scan for a trauma) may reveal a thyroid nodule that turns out to be cancer. Other symptoms are related to the location of the thyroid gland in the neck and are more common in aggressive or larger tumors. Patients may experience changes in voice quality or hoarseness. Patients may also experience swallowing difficulty or a sensation of something being stuck in their throat. Other signs may include breathing problems or the presence of an enlarging neck mass.

What Are The Different Types Of Thyroid Cancer?

Well Differentiated Thyroid Cancer (WDTC). These are the most common type of thyroid cancers and collectively make up 95% of all thyroid cancers.

  • Papillary Thyroid Cancer (PTC). This is the most common type of thyroid cancer and the most common type of WDTC. These types of cancers have a very high cure rate.
  • Follicular Thyroid Cancer (FTC). This the second most common type of thyroid cancer. These types of cancers also have a very high cure rate.
  • Medullary Thyroid Cancer. This is a less common type of thyroid cancer that is a distinct entity from the WDTCs.
  • Anaplastic Thyroid Cancer. This is an extremely rare type of thyroid cancer that is very deadly. Fortunately, this is less than 1% of all thyroid cancers.
  • Lymphoma and other cancers. Occasionally, different types of cancers that began in other parts of the body can spread to the thyroid gland. This is very rare and survival will depend on the origin and type of cancer found within the thyroid gland.

What If I Have Been Diagnosed With Thyroid Gland Cancer?

First off, stay calm! Depending on the type and stage of thyroid cancer, it is extremely treatable and curable to a rate of more than 98%. If your biopsy demonstrates cancer cells or suspicion of thyroid cancer, then you will likely be referred for surgery to remove part or all of the thyroid gland.

What Does Surgery Of The Thyroid Gland Involve?

There are two sides of the thyroid gland. Surgery of the thyroid lobe usually involves removing one or both sides of the thyroid lobe. This is highly dependent on the size and type of thyroid cancer you have. Surgery is usually performed in a hospital, and depending on the type of surgery, you may be able to go home the same day. Other times, you may have to spend 1-2 days in the hospital for observation. The intent of surgery is for a cure, and to remove all cancer.

Are There Any Other Treatments For Thyroid Cancer?

Sometimes radiation can be used to treat thyroid cancer, but more often this is used in addition to surgery to help treat aggressive cancers. Radiation is usually reserved for patients that are too sick to undergo surgery.

Why Should I See Dr. Mourad For My Thyroid Surgery?

Dr. Mourad is a highly dedicated and skilled thyroid surgeon. He is one of New York City’s highest volume surgeons performing more than 50 thyroid surgeries annually. He is also a dedicated researcher who studies and uses artificial intelligence in managing and predicting thyroid cancer behavior. He has presented his original research at the International Federation of Head and Neck Surgery (IFHNOS) 6th World Congress in Argentina. He also has published extensively about thyroid cancer, and continues to be a leader in the field.

Meet Norelle Health

Moustafa Mourad, MD, FACS is double board-certified in Head and Neck Surgery and Facial Plastic Surgery and Reconstruction. He is a Fellow of the American College of Surgeons and a Member of the American Academy of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery. He treats many conditions,... Learn More »