Our Approach: Early Detection and Intervention
The thyroid, which plays an integral role in regulating your metabolism, is a butterfly-shaped gland in front of the neck, below what is sometimes referred to as the Adam’s apple. If thyroid cells begin to grow out of control, they can form small lumps or nodules. The majority of thyroid nodules are benign. About 5% of nodules are cancerous. When thyroid cancer spreads outside the thyroid gland, it most often goes to nearby lymph nodes first. Over time, it may spread to nearby blood vessels, other neck tissues, and even distant parts of the body, such as the lungs and bones.
Your primary care provider will monitor your thyroid gland with routine physical exams. If you experience any warning signs or growths, specialists including endocrinologists, radiologists, radiation oncologists and/or surgeons may be involved in managing your unique condition and guiding you through next steps.
Risks & Warning Signs
Although anyone can develop thyroid cancer, women are at increased risk. In fact, the female to male ratio for thyroid cancer is 3:1. Other factors that may heighten your risk include a history of radiation exposure, iodine deficiency, family history or goiter.
Most thyroid cancer patients will not experience symptoms, but if present, the most common symptoms include:
- Swollen lymph nodes
- Swollen neck
- Trouble swallowing
- Trouble breathing
- Neck pain, especially in the front of your neck
- Hoarseness or other changes in your voice that are persistent
- A lump or swelling over your thyroid or somewhere else in your neck
Testing & Diagnosis
If you or your health care provider suspects you have thyroid cancer, one or more of the following tests may be administered to determine a diagnosis:
- TSH (Thyroid-stimulating hormone)
- Thyroid hormone levels
- RET-protooncogene test
- CT scan
If thyroid cancer is found, your provider will walk you through next steps. Based on your type of thyroid cancer, its stage, your overall health and personal preferences, ThedaCare provides the following treatment options:
- Surgery to remove part or all of the thyroid gland
- Radioiodine therapy to destroy residual thyroid and thyroid cancer cells
- External radiation therapy to kill cancer cells
- Chemotherapy to kill cancer cells throughout the body
- Targeted therapy which suppresses the cancer’s ability to grow and survive
Support to Stay Well
ThedaCare is here to support you through all stages of your cancer journey. Though most thyroid cancers have a promising survival rate, a cancer diagnosis and subsequent treatment can be accompanied by varying mental and emotional challenges that might be difficult to navigate. In addition to outstanding, innovative and expert care, we provide education, healing and support resources to ensure you’re never facing this battle alone.