Thyroid cancer

Thyroid cancer is relatively common. It can affect the young and the old, men and women. The incidence of thyroid cancer is on the rise, mainly through improved diagnostics and earlier detection. As a result, despite the increasing incidence, the mortality rate has remained quite constant. In fact, thyroid cancer has one of the lowest mortality rates amongst all malignancies. Nevertheless, as with other types of cancer, thyroid cancer has the potential to spread and therefore needs careful assessment to determine the best course of treatment. Suren has undergone comprehensive training in the management of thyroid cancer and provides the most current, evidence-based treatment options.

Thyroid cancer can present in many ways. It may appear as a firm lump in the neck, or be incidentally picked up by scans for another condition. Occasionally, it can run in families, although the majority of thyroid cancers do not. If suspected, thyroid cancer is confirmed by a fine needle biopsy under ultrasound guidance. This can be performed at the time of consultation. Ultrasound scans can determine if there is evidence of spread to the lymph nodes surrounding the thyroid gland.

Treatment usually involves surgery to remove the thyroid gland and sometimes the adjacent lymph nodes in the neck. Once the specimen is analysed under the microscope by a pathologist, the case is reviewed by a multidisciplinary team of experts based at Monash Medical Centre to determine if further treatment is necessary. This sometimes involves radioactive iodine therapy and, rarely, chemotherapy or radiotherapy.

Sometimes the diagnosis of thyroid cancer is made after the thyroid gland has already been removed by either a hemi- or total thyroidectomy. It may even be an unexpected finding. These cases are also reviewed by the multidisciplinary team. Frequently, small thyroid cancers do not require further surgery or other therapies.