Thyroid Cancer

Thyroid cancer results when there is abnormal cell growth in the thyroid gland. People who have been exposed to a lot of radiation are more at risk of developing thyroid cancer. Even though the diagnosis of cancer is terrifying, the prognosis for most patients is usually excellent.

Doctors at the Thyroid Institute of Utah have developed tremendous experience and expertise in thyroid cancer diagnosis and treatment. We evaluate not only the thyroid gland and parathyroid glands, but also the whole anterior neck to search for cancer in the neck lymph nodes.

An ultrasound-guided fine needle aspiration (FNA) biopsy of a thyroid nodule aids in the diagnosis of thyroid cancer. Although thyroid nodules are very common, less than 1 in 10 will be a thyroid cancer. If thyroid cancer is determined, the primary treatment is thyroidectomy (surgery to remove the thyroid). Our doctors have performed thousands of biopsies and thousands of thyroid surgeries.

Most people with thyroid cancer will not notice any symptoms until the cancer is bigger. The most common noticeable finding is a lump in the thyroid (thyroid nodule) that is felt by you or your doctor (sometimes it can be seen in the mirror).

When you have a thyroid nodule, symptoms that raise high suspicion for thyroid cancer include:
• Hoarseness/Voice change
• Difficulty swallowing
• Breathing problems (especially when lying flat)
• Persistent pain in the lower part of the front of the neck
• Persistent unexplained cough

If you feel a lump in your neck, please see a thyroid specialist at the Thyroid Institute of Utah as soon as possible, especially if you also have at least one of these symptoms.

Types of thyroid cancer include the following:
• Papillary Thyroid Cancer - This is by far the most common type, and has many variants. It is usually (but not always) slow growing and curable.

• Follicular Thyroid Cancer - This is seen in much fewer people. It tends to be a little more aggressive than papillary thyroid cancer, but is is also usually slow growing and treatable.

• Medullary Thyroid Cancer - This is a unique type of thyroid cancer, as it comes from neuroendocrine cells that do not produce thyroid hormone. Many times, we see this cancer as part of genetic syndromes. It is less frequently curable, but usually treatable.

• Anaplastic Thyroid Cancer - This usually develops from a papillary or follicular thyroid cancer, and is extremely aggressive. This diagnosis is an emergency, and treatment should not be delayed even for 1 day.

Learn more about Thyroid Cancer

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We offer comprehensive treatment of all thyroid and parathyroid conditions including: