Cell division is tightly controlled. Cancer results when cell division escapes the body’s control mechanisms. This happens in all tissues including the thyroid gland.
There are many types of thyroid cancer but the most common types are papillary and follicular cancer (otherwise known as differentiated thyroid cancers).
Thyroid cancer generally has excellent prognosis and thus cure is likely and death from it unlikely.
However, some types such as anaplastic thyroid carcinoma are much more aggressive with a higher mortality rate. Thankfully, this is a rare type of thyroid cancer.
Treatment is usually surgical excision of the cancer (thyroid lobectomy for small cancers or total thyroidectomy for larger cancers or those involving the adjacent lymph nodes).
Surgery may also involve removing the lymph nodes in the central part of the neck (central neck dissection) or removing the lymph nodes on the side around the major vessels of the neck (lateral neck dissection).
Some patients require treatment with radio-iodine ablation following surgery.
Click on the link below for more information about radioiodine ablation from the Austin Nuclear Medicine Department:
The multi-disciplinary team may include endocrine surgeons, endocrinologists, nuclear physicians, radiation oncologists and medical oncologists.
Long term follow-up involves regular neck ultrasound and blood tests. It is usually done by your endocrine surgeon, endocrinologist or nuclear physician.