Thyroid cancer is a type of cancer that affects the thyroid gland, a small gland at the base of the neck.
The thyroid gland consists of two lobes located on either side of the windpipe. Its main purpose is to release hormones (chemicals that have powerful effects on many different functions of the body).
The most common symptom of cancer of the thyroid is a painless lump or swelling that develops in the neck.
Other symptoms only tend to occur after the condition has reached an advanced stage, and may include:
- unexplained hoarseness that lasts for more than a few weeks
- a sore throat or difficulty swallowing that doesn't get better
- a lump elsewhere in your neck
Your recommended treatment plan will depend on the type and grade of your cancer, and whether a complete cure is realistically achievable.
Differentiated thyroid cancers (DTCs) are treated using a combination of surgery to remove the thyroid gland (thyroidectomy) and a type of radiotherapy that destroys any remaining cancer cells and prevents the thyroid cancer returning.
Medullary thyroid carcinomas tend to spread faster than DTCs, so it may be necessary to remove any nearby lymph nodes, as well as your thyroid gland.
Other referral information
At UCLH suspected thyroid cancers should be referred as a 2-week wait referral and patients will be seen by the Endocrinology Team.
If thyroid cancer is diagnosed as part of another pathway, the Head and Neck Team may provide treatment in order to minimise delays.