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  • Writer's pictureVesela Georgieva

Thyroid cancer

What is thyroid cancer? Thyroid cancer develops in the thyroid gland, a small butterfly-shaped gland at the base of the neck. This gland produces hormones that regulate metabolism (how your body uses energy). Thyroid hormones also help control body temperature, blood pressure, and heart rate. Thyroid cancer, a type of endocrine cancer, is usually treatable with an excellent recovery rate.

How common is thyroid cancer? According to statistics in the USA and South America, nearly 53,000 people are diagnosed with thyroid cancer each year. Treatment for most types of thyroid cancer is very successful. Nevertheless, about 2,000 people die from the disease each year. Women, especially those assigned female at birth (AFAB), are three times more likely to develop thyroid cancer compared to men. The disease is usually diagnosed in women aged 40-50 and men aged 60-70. Even children can develop the disease.

What are the types of thyroid cancer? Thyroid cancer can be classified based on the type of cells from which the cancer grows. Types of thyroid cancer include:

Papillary: Up to 80% of all thyroid cancer types are papillary. This type of cancer grows slowly. Although papillary thyroid cancer often spreads to the lymph nodes in the neck, the disease responds very well to treatment. Papillary thyroid cancer is highly treatable and rarely fatal.

Follicular: Follicular thyroid cancer accounts for up to 15% of diagnoses for this type of cancer. This cancer is more likely to spread to the bones and organs, such as the lungs. Metastatic cancer (cancer that spreads) can be more challenging to treat.

Medullary: About 2% of thyroid cancers are medullary. A quarter of people with medullary thyroid cancer have a family history of the disease. A defective gene (genetic mutation) can be the cause.

Anaplastic: This aggressive form of thyroid cancer is the most challenging to treat. It may grow quickly and often spreads to the surrounding tissues and other parts of the body. This rare type of cancer accounts for about 2% of thyroid cancer diagnoses. The staging system determines whether and how far thyroid cancer has spread. Typically, when cancer cells in the thyroid gland metastasize, they first spread to nearby structures and lymph nodes. Then, the cancer can spread to distant lymph nodes, organs, and bones.

The stages of thyroid cancer range from 1 (I) to 4 (IV). Simply put, the higher the number, the more the cancer has spread. Exactly, the staging system for thyroid cancer is designed to help healthcare providers understand the extent of the cancer's spread, which is crucial for determining the most effective treatment plan and predicting outcomes. Stages I and II usually indicate the cancer is localized or has minimally spread to nearby tissues or lymph nodes. By the time cancer is categorized as Stage III or IV, it indicates more significant spread, possibly to distant lymph nodes, organs, or bones, requiring more aggressive treatment approaches. This system helps in tailoring treatment to each patient's specific situation, aiming for the best possible prognosis. Innovations lead to better outcomes.

At Medical Park, specialists have access to the latest technologies and techniques for diagnosing and treating thyroid cancer, utilizing new knowledge and opportunities to achieve your goals. You can expect:

- Thorough examination. High-resolution ultrasound examinations of your thyroid gland and neck help inform your treatment options.

- Accurate diagnosis. Our pathologists have analyzed biopsy and tissue samples from many types of thyroid cancer, including very rare types. This helps ensure you receive an accurate diagnosis for treatment planning.

- Advanced laboratory testing. Testing for molecular markers in your cancer cells helps identify genetic mutations, such as RET and BRAF, to aid in identifying the type of thyroid cancer.

- A full range of treatment options. These include surgical procedures like traditional thyroidectomy and, in certain situations, robotic thyroidectomy. More options include radioactive iodine, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, targeted therapy, and alcohol ablation.

- Experienced surgeons. Mayo Clinic's endocrine surgeons perform many thyroidectomy procedures each year and are trained in the latest minimally invasive techniques. Studies show that surgeons with more experience tend to produce better outcomes for patients, such as fewer surgical complications and shorter hospital stays.

- Carefully selected targeted therapy. This includes testing your cancer cells to see which treatments may be beneficial. Many targeted therapies are available, including the latest multikinase inhibitors.

- Options when radioactive iodine no longer works. If thyroid cancer becomes resistant to radioactive iodine therapy (radioactive iodine-refractory), there are drugs that can make the cancer cells more sensitive to it. This is called redifferentiating therapy.

Expert care, provided with attention.

Doctors at Medical Park treat more than 2,800 people with thyroid cancer each year and are active members of the International Thyroid Oncology Group and the European Thyroid Cancer Association. The hospital meets the strict standards for a comprehensive cancer center of the National Cancer Institute, which recognizes high scientific achievements and a multispecialty approach focused on the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of cancer.

If you need additional information or have specific questions, want to make an inquiry regarding a medical intervention, do not hesitate to contact us through our contact details, which you can find on our website. Our representatives will be happy to assist and answer all your questions.

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