Thyroid Cancer | Miami Cancer Institute | Baptist Health South Florida
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 Thyroid Cancer

Overview

Thyroid cancer is a kind of Head and Neck Cancer in which cancer cells form in the tissue of the thyroid gland. Though it’s a fairly uncommon cancer, it is one of the most common cancers that impact the endocrine system (a gland system that creates the hormones our bodies need to function properly).

The thyroid gland sits in the front of the neck at the base of the throat, and it is responsible for producing hormones that help regulate heart rate, blood pressure, temperature, metabolism and more. When healthy, it’s shaped like a butterfly and is about the size of a quarter.

There are four main types of thyroid cancer, which vary in aggressiveness and treatability:

Papillary thyroid cancer is the most common thyroid cancer. It is slow growing and impacts the follicular cells, which are the cells responsible for T3 and T4 thyroid hormone production. Papillary thyroid cancer can impact patients of any age, usually spreading to the lymph nodes in the neck. When diagnosed and treated early, this kind of cancer typically has excellent outcomes.

Follicular thyroid cancer is a slow-growing cancer that impacts the thyroid’s follicular cells, but it is less likely to spread to the lymph nodes and more likely to spread to other parts of the body (most often to the lungs and bones). Follicular thyroid cancer, when diagnosed and treated early, is considered highly treatable.

Medullary thyroid cancer is usually, although not always, inherited. It impacts the C cells, which produce the hormone called calcitonin (calcitonin maintains healthy calcium levels in our blood).

Although medullary thyroid cancer is relatively slow growing, it frequently spreads to the lymph nodes and other organs. While more complex to treat than other thyroid cancers, medullary thyroid cancer can be treated effectively (and sometimes cured) when it is detected and diagnosed early.

Anaplastic thyroid cancer is a rare and aggressive cancer diagnosed in less than two percent of patients with thyroid cancer – usually those age 60 and older. It often spreads to other parts of the body by the time it is diagnosed.

When thyroid cancer spreads, it’s called metastasis: cancer cells break away from the parent tumor and spread through the body through surrounding tissues, lymph nodes or blood.

Metastatic tumors that develop from thyroid cancer cells are still considered thyroid cancer even if they spread to other parts of the body.

Miami Cancer Institute’s thyroid cancer specialists and subspecialists combine world-recognized medical expertise, innovation and compassionate care to detect and treat your specific cancer, creating precise, personalized treatment plans that incorporate groundbreaking discoveries, collaborations with other world-renowned cancer researchers and the best individualized treatment just for you.

If you’ve been diagnosed with thyroid cancer, would like more information, or would like a referral to our program, please call 1-786-596-2000 (local) or 1-866-596-2330 (toll-free).

International patients, please contact our International Services team at 1-786-596-2373 or email us at International@BaptistHealth.net.

(Source: National Cancer Institute, www.cancer.gov)

Risk Factors

A risk factor is anything that increases your chance of developing a disease. Having risk factors, however, does not necessarily mean you will get cancer, so it’s important to know your own personal risk factors and discuss any concerns with your doctor.

The exact cause of thyroid cancer is unknown, but researchers have identified certain risk factors that may make some people more likely to develop the disease.

Although the effects of thyroid cancer can be significant, the disease is often highly treatable when detected and diagnosed early, which is why it’s important to know your risk factors.

Risk factors include:

  • Being female (Women are three times more likely than men to develop thyroid cancer at some point in their lives.)
  • Being between the ages of 20 and 55 years old (Nearly 70 percent of thyroid cancers are diagnosed in this age group.)
  • Family history of the disease
  • Previous diagnosis of an enlarged thyroid (goiter)
  • Overexposure to iodine
  • Increased exposure to radiation
  • Tobacco use
  • Moderate to heavy alcohol consumption

Miami Cancer Institute’s thyroid cancer specialists and subspecialists combine world-recognized medical expertise, innovation and compassionate care to detect and treat your specific cancer, creating precise, personalized treatment plans that incorporate groundbreaking discoveries, collaborations with other world-renowned cancer researchers and the best individualized treatment just for you.

If you’ve been diagnosed with thyroid cancer, would like more information, or would like a referral to our program, please call 1-786-596-2000 (local) or 1-866-596-2330 (toll-free).

International patients, please contact our International Services team at 1-786-596-2373 or email us at International@BaptistHealth.net.

(Source: National Cancer Institute, www.cancer.gov)

Prevention

Some thyroid cancers can be prevented, but not all of them, especially if there is a family history of the disease. Even if you don’t have a family history of thyroid cancer, you can still minimize your risk factors.

Preventing thyroid cancer, or at least reducing your risk, often involves changing lifestyle behaviors or environmental factors. This includes eliminating tobacco use, drinking alcohol in moderation and avoiding exposure to radiation.

Our experts are available to discuss thyroid cancer and potential changes you can make to your diet and lifestyle (for example, modifying your iodine intake and decreasing your exposure to radiation) to help decrease your risk of developing cancer.

Miami Cancer Institute’s thyroid cancer specialists and subspecialists combine world-recognized medical expertise, innovation and compassionate care to detect and treat your specific cancer, creating precise, personalized treatment plans that incorporate groundbreaking discoveries, collaborations with other world-renowned cancer researchers and the best individualized treatment just for you.

If you’ve been diagnosed with thyroid cancer, would like more information, or would like a referral to our program, please call 1--596-2000 (local) or 1-866-596-2330 (toll-free).

International patients, please contact our International Services team at 1-786-596-2373 or email us at International@BaptistHealth.net.

(Source: National Cancer Institute, www.cancer.gov)

Symptoms

Thyroid cancer rarely causes symptoms in its early stages, but if you do have any symptoms, especially those that last longer than two weeks, it’s is important to see your doctor.

Having symptoms does not necessarily mean you have thyroid cancer, but if you are diagnosed with the disease and it is detected early, it is often treatable and has excellent outcomes.

When symptoms do appear, they may include:

  • a lump or swelling in the front of the neck
  • pain in the neck or ears
  • difficulty swallowing or breathing
  • change in voice tone
  • hoarseness
  • a chronic cough

Miami Cancer Institute’s thyroid cancer specialists and subspecialists combine world-recognized medical expertise, innovation and compassionate care to detect and treat your specific cancer, creating precise, personalized treatment plans that incorporate groundbreaking discoveries, collaborations with other world-renowned cancer researchers and the best individualized treatment just for you.

If you’ve been diagnosed with thyroid cancer, would like more information, or would like a referral to our program, please call 1-786-596-2000 (local) or 1-866-596-2330 (toll-free).

International patients, please contact our International Services team at 1-786-596-2373 or email us at International@BaptistHealth.net.

(Source: National Cancer Institute, www.cancer.gov)

Diagnosis

At Miami Cancer Institute, our internationally recognized thyroid cancer experts work together across many medical disciplines (known as a multidisciplinary approach) to provide you with the most advanced, comprehensive diagnostics available today – all under one roof and all conveniently located in South Florida.

Our expert multidisciplinary team begins with determining your complete family history and providing you with a thorough physical examination. This includes blood tests and state-of-the-art advanced imaging and laboratory tests, all with a compassionate, patient-centered focus.

When you are diagnosed with thyroid cancer at the Cancer Institute, our expert healthcare team uses a variety of personalized tests depending on what is right for you. This can include:

  • Biopsy or fine needle aspiration to examine tumor tissues and determine the specific kind of cancer present
  • Imaging studies that may include ultrasound, CT (Computed Tomography), MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging), PET​ (Photo Emission Tomography) and radioiodine scans
  • Laryngoscopy, which enables the specialists to use a mirror or a thin, flexible, lighted tube to view the larynx and surrounding areas in the throat

Miami Cancer Institute’s thyroid cancer specialists and subspecialists combine world-recognized medical expertise, innovation and compassionate care to detect and treat your specific cancer, creating precise, personalized treatment plans that incorporate groundbreaking discoveries, collaborations with other world-renowned cancer researchers and the best individualized treatment just for you.

If you’ve been diagnosed with thyroid cancer, would like more information, or would like a referral to our program, please call 1-786-596-2000 (local) or 1-866-596-2330 (toll-free).

International patients, please contact our International Services team at 1-786-596-2373 or email us at International@BaptistHealth.net.

(Source: National Cancer Institute, www.cancer.gov)

Treatment Options

The thyroid cancer specialists and subspecialists at Miami Cancer Institute are internationally renowned experts who offer the most advanced therapies available to treat your specific kind of cancer.

Immediately after diagnosis, our specialty teams provide additional tests to determine if the cancer has affected other areas of the head and neck or any other areas of your body.

Every patient’s disease is unique, with different cells moving, changing or multiplying based on that person’s individual genetic make-up. In addition to locating the tumor cells and determining what the genetic changes and markers are, additional ways our specialists and subspecialists can create the best treatment plan is to factor in a patient’s age, overall health, family history, medical history, and finally to stage the cancer, which helps identify how far the disease has progressed.

Your personalized treatment plan may include:

  • Surgery: Miami Cancer Institute’s world-renowned surgical oncology team offers minimally invasive techniques (which can reduce pain and recovery time) to remove either part or all of the thyroid gland. Every patient’s cancer is unique, so the Cancer Institute specialists will discuss what surgical option might be best for you in order to remove a tumor.
  • Radioactive Iodine Therapy: The Institute’s thyroid cancer specialists and subspecialists can use this therapy to identify and destroy cancer cells in the thyroid, lymph nodes and other impacted parts of the body.
  • Hormone Therapy is often used to stop cancer cell growth and/or to keep thyroid hormone levels normal before, during and after treatment.
  • Radiation Therapy: As the only cancer center in the world to offer all of the latest radiation therapy technologies under one roof, Miami Cancer Institute is also home to South Florida’s first state-of-the-art proton therapy center. Proton therapy delivers less radiation dosage to normal tissues near the tumor, which can often reduce treatment side effects. It can also enable our experts to give a higher treatment dose to the tumor safely, further improving the ability to destroy tumor cells. For a full listing of radiation therapies available, click here.
  • Chemotherapy: Chemotherapy drugs destroy cancer cells and control their growth. Chemotherapy can be combined with other treatments either to shrink tumors before surgery or radiation or to ensure all cancer cells have been eliminated following other treatment therapies.

In most cases, chemotherapy is given intravenously (through an IV) through a thin tube called a catheter, which is inserted into a vein.

Other chemotherapy delivery methods include:

  • Orally, in the form of pills or liquid
  • Injection, into a muscle or below your skin
  • Topically, in the form of a cream applied to your skin
  • Intrahepatically, which means it’s delivered to the hepatic artery, which sends blood directly into the liver
  • Intraperitoneally, which means it’s delivered in an injection into the abdominal cavity
  • Intrathecally, which means it’s delivered into the fluid-filled space between the thin tissue layers covering the brain and spinal cord
  • Targeted Therapies: The Institute’s cancer specialists use drugs or other select substances to identify and attack specific types of cancer cells, blocking their growth and spread. The goal of targeted therapy is to interfere with genes or proteins involved in tumor growth while avoiding damage to healthy cells.
    Targeted therapy is the foundation of precision medicine, which uses information about a person’s genes or a tumor’s DNA profile to develop innovative, tailored treatment options.
    Treatment can be delivered orally, intravenously or by another mode – specific to you and your cancer type. Targeted therapy may also be combined with surgery, chemotherapy, or radiation therapy.
  • Immunotherapy: Your Miami Cancer Institute cancer specialist may use certain drugs to assist your immune system’s ability to identify and attack specific types of cancer cells, blocking their growth and spread.
    Immunotherapy is delivered intravenously and is usually very well tolerated. It may also be combined with surgery, chemotherapy or radiation therapy.
  • Clinical Trials offer South Florida patients and our communities access to leading-edge, innovative treatments that often result in new therapies not available elsewhere and can also often mean excellent outcomes for patients.

Miami Cancer Institute’s thyroid cancer specialists and subspecialists combine world-recognized medical expertise, innovation and compassionate care to detect and treat your specific cancer, creating precise, personalized treatment plans that incorporate groundbreaking discoveries, collaborations with other world-renowned cancer researchers and the best individualized treatment just for you.

If you’ve been diagnosed with thyroid cancer, would like more information, or would like a referral to our program, please call 1-786-596-2000 (local) or 1-866-596-2330 (toll-free).

International patients, please contact our International Services team at 1-786-596-2373 or email us at International@BaptistHealth.net.

(Source: National Cancer Institute, www.cancer.gov)

Treatment Planning & Cancer Patient Support

At Miami Cancer Institute, our internationally recognized thyroid cancer specialists and subspecialists work together across numerous medical disciplines (known as a multidisciplinary approach) – medical oncology, radiation oncology, surgical oncology, radiology, pathology, clinical researchers and more – to provide you with the most advanced, precise and personalized treatments available today – all under one roof and all conveniently located in South Florida.

Our expert multidisciplinary team designs an individualized treatment plan that is created to address your specific cancer and that helps ensure you receive the best care available anywhere.

Additionally, our dedicated Cancer Patient Support Center team works with each patient to tailor a personalized plan that may include physical therapy, nutritional advice, pain management services and more. Your team of Institute specialists will work with you to determine which support services will best meet your individual needs.

The Institute also offers an innovative Patient Navigation Program that streamlines each patient’s care delivery, creating a smoother, more seamless care path while also enhancing a compassionate patient experience on the cancer journey. From helping you manage symptoms and understand treatment options to assisting caregivers and helping resolve insurance challenges, the Institute’s nurse navigators develop compassionate and consistent relationships with patients to help each patient at virtually every point of need. To learn more about the Patient Navigation Program, please click here.

Miami Cancer Institute’s thyroid cancer specialists and subspecialists combine world-recognized medical expertise, innovation and compassionate care to detect and treat your specific cancer, creating precise, personalized treatment plans that incorporate groundbreaking discoveries, collaborations with other world-renowned cancer researchers and the best individualized treatment just for you.

If you’ve been diagnosed with thyroid cancer, would like more information, or would like a referral to our program, please call 1-786-596-2000 (local) or 1-866-596-2330 (toll-free).

International patients, please contact our International Services team at 1-786-596-2373 or email us at International@BaptistHealth.net.

(Source: National Cancer Institute, www.cancer.gov)

Clinical Trials

Clinical trials offer cancer patients an additional source of hope and treatment options – even if other treatment methods have proven challenging and extraordinarily complex – by helping all of us gain new insights into ways of preventing, detecting, treating and curing cancer.

At Miami Cancer Institute, our thyroid cancer specialists and subspecialists believe that groundbreaking, transformative research through medical collaboration with each other as well as with other world-renowned cancer experts can bring promising new drugs and innovative therapies directly to the patient by offering access to leading-edge clinical trials – targeted to your specific type of cancer.

Organized around cancer-specific research groups and led by internationally renowned oncology researcher and Deputy Director/Chief Scientific Officer Miguel Villalona Calero, M.D., the Cancer Institute’s Clinical Research Program is designed to focus on precision medicine and to conduct detailed, patient-centered studies that identify your specific genes and molecular makeup (known as genomics), as well as your environment and lifestyle.

Additionally, our alliance with our colleagues at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center enables us to offer our patients access to even more innovative therapies and clinical trials to treat your specific disease – creating a robust Clinical Trials program unmatched by any other in South Florida and deemed one of the best in the entire nation.

To find out which clinical trials may be available for your specific cancer, click here.

If you’ve been diagnosed with thyroid cancer, would like more information, or would like a referral to our program, please call 1-786-596-2000 (local) or 1-866-596-2330 (toll-free).

International patients, please contact our International Services team at 1-786-596-2373 or email us at International@BaptistHealth.net.

(Source: National Cancer Institute, www.cancer.gov)

The Experts

Miami Cancer Institute’s world-renowned thyroid cancer experts – and the advanced technologies we offer – provide you with a life-changing medical edge in your fight against cancer, all available right here in South Florida.

Led by Chief of Head and Neck Cancer Surgery Geoffrey Young, M.D., Ph.D., Chief of Endocrine Surgery Robert Udelsman, M.D., and Medical Oncologist Guilherme Rabinowits, M.D.​, the Cancer Institute’s thyroid cancer team comprises nationally and internationally recognized experts who are well-established in our community and who collaborate with each other as well as across medical disciplines to provide personalized, compassionate, innovative treatments for each patient.

If you’ve been diagnosed with thyroid cancer, would like more information, or would like a referral to our program, please call 1-786-596-2000 (local) or 1-866-596-2330 (toll-free).

International patients, please contact our International Services team at 1-786-596-2373 or email us at International@BaptistHealth.net.

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