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Thyroid Cancer


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Your thyroid is a gland located at the base of your throat. As an endocrine gland, your thyroid makes and secretes hormones that help control your heart rate, blood pressure, body temperature, and weight. Thyroid cancer survival rates can be high if the condition is diagnosed early. Accurately diagnosing the disease and personalizing your thyroid treatment is essential to its long-term success and fewer side effects.

To achieve the best outcomes possible, Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center uses a multidisciplinary approach. An integrated team of endocrinologists, surgical oncologists, medical and radiation oncologists, radiologists, and pathologists will determine the exact nature of your thyroid cancer.

Then, your team will recommend a treatment plan taking advantage of the latest techniques.

From advanced imaging technologies, minimally invasive surgery, and genetic testing to hormone management therapies and palliative care to decrease symptoms and stresses — we’re here for you.

Staging is the process of determining:

  • How much cancer is in the body
  • Where it's located
  • How severe it is, based on the original (primary) tumor and any cancer that's spread (metastasized) to other areas

The scale typically starts at stage I (least risk) and can rise to stage IV (severe risk).

Anaplastic thyroid cancer

Anaplastic thyroid cancer is considered stage IV because of its aggressiveness and the fact that it has usually spread when it's discovered.

Differentiated thyroid cancer

This ranges from stages I-IV, depending on the extent of the disease and how old you are when you're diagnosed

Medullary thyroid cancer

The stages range from I-IV, depending on the size of the tumor and if it’s spread to other areas of your body

How do you test for thyroid cancer?

A biopsy is a tissue sample that’s examined for cancer cells. If cancer is found, a tumor genetic mutation analysis may be done to look for specific molecular features in the tumor. This helps us to create the most precise treatment recommendation.

Ultrasound Exam of the Neck
An ultrasound exam uses high-energy sound waves, which bounce off internal tissues or organs to form a picture (sonogram).

How do you treat thyroid cancer?

Hormone Therapy
If recommended, taking daily thyroid hormone pills can serve two purposes.

  • Maintain your body’s normal metabolism by replacing missing thyroid hormones
  • Stop cancer cells from growing by lowering thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) levels

Intensity Modulated Radiation Therapy (IMRT)
This advanced form of external-beam radiation therapy allows radiation specialists to shape, or conform, radiation doses to the exact shape of your tumor. It's ideal for irregularly shaped thyroid tumors. Radiation specialists can control the amount of radiation in each beam targeted at the tumor.

The control and flexibility of IMRT help minimize the amount of radiation to surrounding healthy tissue. IMRT may be an option if you can't undergo surgery and your cancer continues to grow after radioactive iodine treatment. It's also used to slow the growth of cancer that has spread to the bones.

Radioactive Iodine Treatment (RAI)
You receive radioactive iodine, or radioiodine, treatment as a pill or liquid you swallow. The radioactive iodine is absorbed primarily by thyroid cells and thyroid cancer cells, so there's a lower risk of it harming other cells in your body.

RAI may be used after thyroidectomy for differentiated thyroid cancers to destroy microscopic areas of thyroid cancer that weren't removed during surgery. It's not used to treat medullary or anaplastic thyroid cancers. It also can be used to treat cancers that recur after treatment, or that have spread to other areas of the body.

Preparation for RAI includes:

  • Follow a low-iodine diet before and during treatment. By doing this for about six weeks, we can be sure that body scans after treatment will show only iodine activity from the treatment and not foods you eat.
  • Two intramuscular injections of recombinant thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) will prepare your body for the treatment.

During radioactive iodine therapy, you must take special precautions for about a week after to protect the health of others. You’ll be asked to be in radioactive quarantine, which may include a day or more at the hospital and then a week at home.

Also, you'll need to avoid close contact with other people, particularly children and pregnant women, and avoid sharing bedding, food preparation, or bathroom facilities until the radiation is cleared from your body.

Why Choose Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center?

Sylvester is an NCI-designated cancer center. The National Cancer Institute has recognized Sylvester for its outstanding work conducting research in its laboratories, treating patients in its clinics and hospitals, and reaching out to medically underserved communities with innovative prevention strategies.

Only center in South Florida with a specialty endocrine testing center. Our specialized testing centers improves diagnosis accuracy, leading to more precise treatments and better results. Located at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, the center is staffed by specialized nurses and technical assistants who perform complex hormone tests.

Leading-edge radiation therapy technology. From our pioneering work in MRI-guided techniques and HyperArc™ radiosurgery to our new addition of proton beam therapy, we can precisely target cancer cells with utmost accuracy. We offer advanced treatment options, including intensity-modulated radiation therapy, stereotactic body radiation therapy, stereotactic radiosurgery, and more, to improve outcomes, while preserving healthy organs and tissues.

More cancer clinical trials than any other South Florida hospital. If appropriate for your cancer and stage, our clinical trials provide you with easy access to the newest ways to treat and potentially cure your cancer.

Questions? We're here to help.

Our appointment specialists are ready to help you find what you need. Contact us today.