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

Miami Cancer Institute’s multidisciplinary team of physicians and cancer specialists understand what makes thyroid cancer treatment effective – experience, teamwork and technology. They are dedicated to providing you with individualized care.

About Thyroid Cancer

Thyroid cancer is the most common malignancy of the endocrine system, and it is one of the most rapidly increasing cancer diagnoses in the United States. The good news is: It is one of the least dangerous cancers in most cases, and the five-year survival rate for all types of thyroid cancer is nearly 97 percent.

Thyroid cancer occurs in the thyroid gland, which sits in the front of the neck at the base of the throat. The thyroid is part of the body's endocrine system and makes hormones that help regulate the body's heart rate, blood pressure, temperature and metabolism.

The thyroid gland has two main types of cells and different cancers can form in each type of cell:

  • Follicular cells use iodine from the blood to make thyroid hormones. These hormones help regulate metabolism.
  • Parafollicular cells, also called C cells, make calcitonin. This hormone helps control how the body uses calcium.

Types of thyroid cancer are:

  • Papillary carcinoma accounts for about 80 percent of thyroid cancers. This cancer type grows slowly and usually develops in only one lobe of the thyroid gland.
  • Follicular carcinoma accounts for about 10 percent of thyroid cancers. These cancers usually do not spread to lymph nodes but can spread to other parts of the body.
  • Other, less common, types of thyroid cancers are: medullary thyroid carcinoma, anaplastic carcinoma, thyroid lymphoma and thyroid sarcoma.

Thyroid Cancer Risk Factors 

Although the exact cause of thyroid cancer is not yet known, researchers have identified some risk factors, including:

  • Female – women are three times as likely as men to develop thyroid cancer. 
  • Age – Nearly 70 percent of thyroid cancers are diagnosed between ages 20 and 55. 
  • Diet low in iodine.
  • Exposure to radiation, especially in childhood.
  • Hereditary conditions.
  • History of goiter (enlarged thyroid).​
Symptoms of Thyroid Cancer

Thyroid cancer rarely causes symptoms in its early stages. If symptoms are present, they may include:

  • Lump or swelling in the front of the neck
  • Pain in the neck or ears
  • Swallowing difficulties
  • Breathing problems 
  • Voice change or hoarseness. 
  • Chronic cough

Our thyroid cancer experts use state-of-the-art diagnostic tools, including advanced imaging and laboratory tests, to evaluate thyroid cancer.

In addition to a complete medical and family history and physical examination, diagnostic procedures for thyroid cancer may include one or more of the following:

  • Biopsy or fine needle aspiration to obtain a tissue sample for examination. 
  • Blood tests, including blood hormone and nutrition panel.
  • Imaging studies, such as X-rays, ultrasound, CT, MRI and PET scans and radioiodine scan. 
  • Laryngoscope, using a mirror or a thin, flexible, lighted tube to view the larynx and surrounding areas in the throat.  

Our endocrine physician-experts use a multidisciplinary approach to treat thyroid cancer that includes minimally invasive surgical techniques, genetic testing, hormone management therapies and advanced imaging technologies. Since your needs and cancer are unique, your treatment plan is designed specifically for you, taking into account the stage and location of the disease and your age, general health and medical history. 

Most patients with thyroid cancer have surgery to remove all (total thyroidectomy) or part (lobectomy) of the thyroid gland. Miami Cancer Institute’s surgical team offers minimally invasive techniques for thyroid surgery, reducing pain and recovery time.

Your treatments also may include:

  • Radiation therapy that delivers the maximum amount of radiation with the least damage to healthy cells. 
  • Proton therapy that precisely targets tumors and spares healthy tissue. 
  • Radioactive iodine, which collects in the thyroid gland and destroys cancer cells as well as thyroid cancer cells in lymph nodes or other parts of the body.
  • Hormone therapy that is used to stop the growth of cancer cells or keep thyroid hormone levels normal.  
  • Chemotherapy, which may be combined with external beam radiation therapy to treat anaplastic thyroid cancer.
  • Targeted therapy, using drugs or other substances to identify and attack specific types of cancer cells, blocking their growth and spread.
  • Clinical trials, giving you access to innovative treatments that can result in excellent outcomes and improve future cancer treatment.​
During your treatment, clinicians from a variety of integrative oncology services in our Cancer Patient Support Center will work with you to reduce side effects and improve your quality of life.