All About Thyroid Cancer

June 12, 2019

Clinical Contributors to this Story

Danielle E. Lann, M.D. contributes to topics such as Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism.

Michael C. Sullivan, M.D. contributes to topics such as Endocrine Surgery.

The thyroid is the butterfly-shaped gland located in the front of the neck. It produces hormones that are critically important to ensuring many other body systems function appropriately.

Some thyroid disorders are related to the volume of thyroid hormone produced. Hypothyroidism (too little hormone) and hyperthyroidism (too much hormone) are both common endocrine disorders that require medical management. Many adults also develop growths within their thyroid, called nodules, which can be a source of thyroid cancer.

Disease Prevalence

The prompt diagnosis and treatment of thyroid disease is increasingly recognized as being critical to a patient’s overall well-being. Among these diseases is thyroid cancer, which the American Cancer Society predicts will effect more than 52,000 new people in 2019. In fact, thyroid cancer is the fastest-growing cancer in America, with the likelihood of a patient being diagnosed tripling over the past three decades.

While thyroid cancer can be seen in patients of all ages, it is more frequently seen in young adults and women than many other cancers.

Signs and Symptoms

One of the challenges with thyroid cancer is in its detection: There are often no symptoms. “Thyroid cancer can be silent,” says Michael Sullivan, M.D., an endocrine surgeon at Jersey Shore University Medical Center.

But as the thyroid enlarges, it may begin to compress the structures surrounding it. Therefore, some people may notice a lump or swelling in the neck, have trouble swallowing or breathing, develop hoarseness or other voice changes, or note a constant cough that is not due to a cold.

Thyroid Cancer Detection

Because symptoms can be scarce, it’s critical to have regular screenings with your primary care physician. A complete exam, at least annually, is your best defense to a number of health problems, including thyroid cancer, Dr. Sullivan says.

Because thyroid cancer is caused by a combination of genetic and environmental factors, there is currently no way to prevent it.

A Multidisciplinary Approach

Danielle Lann, M.D., an endocrinologist at Jersey Shore, understands how frightening a thyroid cancer diagnosis can be. However, she reminds her patients that thyroid cancer has an excellent prognosis. She feels it is critical, however, to find a multidisciplinary team that can work with patients to achieve the best possible outcomes.

Drs. Lann and Sullivan collaborate with other physicians to treat patients with all types of complex thyroid disease and thyroid cancer in the Center for Thyroid, Parathyroid and Adrenal Disease at Jersey Shore. At a single center, patients can be followed at every stage of their cancer care journey by a team of physicians with a singular focus.

American Thyroid Association

Learn how we treat thyroid cancer through a coordinated approach.

Dr. Sullivan is board certified in general surgery. To make an appointment, call 800-822-8905.

Dr. Lann is board certified in endocrinology, diabetes and metabolism, and internal medicine. To make an appointment, call 800-822-8905.

The material provided through HealthU is intended to be used as general information only and should not replace the advice of your physician. Always consult your physician for individual care.