Your thyroid is a butterfly-shaped gland that sits at the front of your neck, at the base of your throat. The gland produces hormones that regulate body tasks such as metabolism, and heart and digestive function.
Most tumors on the thyroid are benign (noncancerous). According to the American Cancer Society, thyroid cancer is commonly diagnosed at a younger age than most other adult cancers — the majority of cases are found in people younger than 55.
Thyroid cancer occurs most frequently in people who’ve had radiation therapy in the head, neck or throat. It also can occur without any known risk factors. Women are more likely to get thyroid cancer than men.
The board-certified and fellowship-trained doctors in El Camino Health’s cancer program work together to create an aggressive, personalized treatment plan designed to eliminate cancer and restore you to good health.
Throughout your treatment, you’ll have a team of nurses, doctors and other staff who treat you like family, supporting you through the challenges of cancer.
Symptoms and Diagnosis
A lump at the base of your throat is the key sign of a possible thyroid cancer. Other symptoms include:
- Hoarseness or difficulty swallowing.
- Persistent throat or neck pain.
- Persistent cough.
- Breathing problems.
To diagnose thyroid cancer, our cancer specialists do a thorough history and physical exam, test your blood, look at images of your thyroid from a scan or ultrasound, and take a biopsy (tissue sample) for further study.
For all of types of thyroid cancer, our doctors recommend surgical removal of the thyroid, called a thyroidectomy. Sometimes they remove lymph glands, as well, if they suspect cancer cells have spread.
Treatment may also include:
- Radioactive iodine – Destroys stray cancer cells.
- Thyroid hormone therapy – Stops the pituitary gland’s production of thyroid-stimulating hormone, which can cause a recurrence of some types of thyroid cancer.
- Chemotherapy and targeted therapy – May be used to treat rare forms of thyroid cancer.
In addition to advanced therapies, El Camino Health offers a variety of specialized services, support and assistance to address the psychological, emotional and spiritual needs of you and your family members throughout treatment and recovery.