The thyroid gland is found inside the front of the lower neck which wraps around the front part of the trachea (windpipe). Your metabolism—the rate at which every part of the body works—is controlled by the thyroid through thyroid hormone, a chemical that carries messages from the thyroid to the rest of the body through the bloodstream.
Thyroid cancer usually appears as small lumps or nodules within the thyroid gland. The thyroid gland may also be enlarged. Thyroid cancer occurs more often in people who have undergone radiation to the head, neck or chest. It can also occur in people without any known risk factors. Thyroid cancer is the fastest-increasing cancer in both men and women, and occurs more frequently in females.
On average, thyroid cancer has a 97 percent survival rate at the five year mark.
Our otolaryngologists are part of a multidisciplinary team that specialize in using the latest minimally invasive surgical approaches to treat recurrent and advanced thyroid cancers at Dana-Farber/Brigham and Women’s Cancer Center’s Head and Neck Cancer Program.
There are several types of thyroid cancer:
Learn more about thyroid tumors.
Researchers have found risk factors that make you more likely to develop thyroid cancer. Learn if you are at risk for thyroid cancer.
The symptoms of thyroid cancer may resemble other conditions or medical problems. Always consult your doctor for a diagnosis.
Your head and neck surgeon may conduct the following tests to diagnose thyroid cancer:
Learn more about diagnostic tests and procedures for thyroid cancer.
Learn about a diagnostic gene test that helps determine which patients require thyroid surgery. Erik Alexander, MD, Chief, Thyroid Section of Division of Endocrinology, Diabetes and Hypertension, led the research study.
Your otolaryngologist will base your treatment plan on the type of thyroid cancer you have. The majority of thyroid cancers are slow to grow and metastasize, but there are some types that can be very aggressive. Your doctor will treat these differently. Your doctor will also consider your age, your health, the size and location of your tumor, and other factors.
In most cases, there are three elements to the treatment of a thyroid cancer:
Surgery is the first and main treatment for most thyroid cancers. Your otolaryngologist may use one of the following methods:
Your surgeon may also remove lymph nodes near the cancer if they have known cancer cells or look suspicious. This procedure is called either a central compartment neck dissection or a lateral neck dissection depending on the extent of lymph node removal.
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