Thyroid Cancer


“Good health, good luck, and happiness are for today and every day.”
Irish Saying

Thyroid cancer is a disease that you get when abnormal cells begin to grow in your thyroid gland camera. A small percentage of thyroid nodules are cancerous. Thyroid cancer often arises in a lump or nodule in the thyroid and does not cause any symptoms. Lab tests generally do not help to find thyroid cancer. Thyroid tests such as TSH are usually normal even when a cancer is present. The best way to find a thyroid cancer is to make sure that your thyroid gland does not have nodules and is not enlarged. Neck examination by your doctor is the best way to do that.

Often, thyroid nodules are discovered incidentally on imaging tests like CT scans and neck ultrasound done for completely unrelated reasons. Occasionally, patients themselves find thyroid nodules by noticing a lump in their neck while looking in a mirror, buttoning their collar, or fastening a necklace. Rarely, thyroid cancers and nodules do cause symptoms. In these cases, patients may complain of pain in the neck, jaw, or ear. If a nodule is large enough to compress the windpipe or esophagus, it may cause difficulty with breathing, swallowing, or cause a “tickle in the throat”. Even less commonly, hoarseness can be caused if a cancer invades the nerve that controls the vocal cords.

While thyroid cancer is a rare cancer, it's on the rise. Thyroid cancer is rare compared to other cancers. In the United States in 2010 an estimated 45,000 patients were diagnosed with thyroid cancer compared to over 200,000 patients with breast cancer and 140,000 patients with colon cancer. However, fewer than 2000 patients die of thyroid cancer each year. In 2008 when statistics were last collected, over 450,000 patients were alive and living with thyroid cancer.

In this program you’ll learn more.