The Increase in Thyroid Cancer

While the incidence of many cancers is declining, thyroid cancer is one that is steadily soaring, especially in women. It’s got everyone wondering why this hormonal powerhouse is taking such a hit.

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Tests for Thyroid Cancer
Some nodules are more worrisome than others and that will depend on the size and characteristics of the tumor. It is difficult to tell by look and feel if a nodule is cancer. Doctors decide on a course of action based on the results of imaging and blood tests. For instance, if hormones are out-of-whack, it probably isn't cancer.

Tests performed to diagnose thyroid cancer

  • Blood tests measuring thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) to assess thyroid functioning (hypothyroidism or hyperthyroidism)
  • Diagnostic thyroid ultrasound to measure and determine features of the nodule(s)
  • Radionuclide thyroid scan to assess activity inside the nodules
  • Fine-needle aspiration biopsy (FNAB) to view a sample of the nodule's tissue under the microscope

The most common type of thyroid cancer is the papillary type (87% of the increased trend in incidence was this type), which is also the most responsive to treatment and cure.

Treatment for Thyroid Cancer
Treatment for thyroid cancer will involve surgery (near-total or total thyroid removal or thyroidectomy) alone, or combined with radiation, radioactive seeds, chemotherapy, hormone therapy or targeted therapy, a type of treatment that takes specific aim at thyroid cancer cells.

People who have their thyroid removed are given thyroid hormone replacement therapy permanently, to take over for the removed thyroid gland.