The thyroid, a butterfly-shaped gland in your neck, is one of your endocrine glands, which makes hormones.

Thyroid hormones help regulate your metabolism, including heart rate, body temperature and blood pressure.

Thyroid cancer is any cancer that starts in the thyroid gland. There are different forms of thyroid cancer, including:

  • Differentiated: These types of cancers develop from thyroid follicular cells and include papillary thyroid cancer and follicular thyroid cancer.
  • Medullary: Medullary thyroid cancer starts in the thyroid’s C cells, which make calcitonin. This type of cancer is more difficult to treat than other types.
  • Anaplastic: Also called undifferentiated thyroid cancer, this is a rare form of cancer in which the cells do not resemble thyroid cells.

Parathyroid cancer is a rare form of cancer that differs from thyroid cancer. It starts in a parathyroid gland, which is located near the thyroid and makes a hormone that balances the amount of calcium and phosphorus in your body.

Thyroid Cancer at UK Markey Cancer Center

In the UK Markey Cancer Center, more than 450 thyroid cancer patients a year are provided care customized to fit their needs. Our program offers the latest in surgery, nuclear medicine therapy, radiation therapy, chemotherapy treatments and more.

The Thyroid Cancer Program includes physicians, nurses and researchers from multiple specialties. Patients with tumors of the thyroid gland are seen in a comfortable, supportive environment. Treatment options include thyroid surgery, nuclear medicine therapy, chemotherapy and radiation therapy.

Our team works together providing each member’s individual expertise to offer patients personalized treatment plans suited for their needs.

Most patients do very well with standard therapies; however, this multidiscipline expert practice is able to effectively treat all patients, even those that require innovative therapy or participation in clinical trials.

Markey has provided state-of-the-art cancer care for more than 30 years, and we are proud to be the only comprehensive cancer center in Kentucky designated by the National Cancer Institute. For the last five years, Markey Cancer Center has been nationally recognized as a top 50 cancer center by U.S. News and World Report.

Thyroid cancer symptoms may include:

  • A constant cough
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Pain in the front of the neck that can travel up to the ears
  • Trouble breathing
  • Voice changes, such as hoarseness, that don’t go away

Parathyroid cancer symptoms can also include:

  • Abdominal pain
  • Bone pain
  • Fatigue
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Weight loss

While thyroid cancer survival rates vary depending on the type and the stage of the cancer, the National Cancer Institute reports that the overall five-year relative survival rate is 98 percent. For parathyroid cancer, the five-year relative survival rate is 85 percent, according to the U.S. National Library of Medicine.

You can lower your risk of cancer by taking steps to build a healthy lifestyle. Here are some ways you can lower your risk for this disease, as well as improve your overall basic health:

  • Avoid using tobacco products. Tobacco has been tied to multiple cancers, and it is responsible for 90 percent of lung cancer deaths.
  • Stay physically active. Your physical activity is related to risk for colon and breast cancer. Excess weight gained from inactivity increases the risk of multiple cancers.
  • Limit alcohol consumption. It is important to be mindful of how much alcohol you drink. Alcohol intake, even in moderate amounts, can increase the risk for colon, breast, esophageal and oropharyngeal cancer.
  • Learn about screenings. Your primary care doctor can recommend appropriate cancer screenings based on your age, personal risk and family history.

According to the American Cancer Society, certain risk factors can raise your chances for developing thyroid cancer. These include:

  • Being overweight: If you are overweight or obese, you have a higher risk of thyroid cancer. According to the International Agency for Research on Cancer, the higher the body mass index (BMI), the higher your risk.
  • Hereditary conditions: Having certain inherited conditions in families can raise the risk of thyroid cancer. These include: o Familial adenomatous polyposis (FAP) o Cowden disease o Carney complex, type 1 o Familial nonmedullary thyroid carcinoma
  • Iodine in food: If you have too much iodine in your diet, your risk for thyroid cancer may increase.
  • Radiation exposure: Being exposed to high amounts of radiation from medical treatments or events such as power plant accidents increases your risk for developing thyroid cancer.
  • Sex: Women are about three times more likely than men to develop thyroid cancer.
  • For your first visit, you will be directed to the head, neck & respiratory clinic on the second floor of the Ben Roach Cancer Care Facility.
  • You can register at the front desk or registration area, where a Markey team member will help guide you through your appointment.
  • Several parking options are available to patients of Markey Cancer Center.
  • Please remember to bring your patient packet with the completed forms. These items will help your doctor learn more about your case and determine the best plan for your care.
  • Review the patient handbook to learn about your stay and everything Markey offers for patients and families.
  • To meet our patient needs, UK HealthCare accepts many forms of insurance.

Clinical trials are research studies aimed at evaluating medical, surgical or behavioral interventions to determine if a new treatment is safe and effective. At Markey, we are advancing cancer care and research to prevent, detect and treat one patient at a time. As a patient at Markey, you have a team of people looking at your individual case, applying the most recent cancer knowledge to give you the best chance of survival.

Markey has more open clinical trials than any other cancer center in the region, giving you access to some of the most advanced options available. Learn more about ongoing clinical trials for treating thyroid and parathyroid cancers below.

Search Our Ongoing Clinical Trials for Thyroid Cancer

NCI Comprehensive Cancer Center - A Cancer Center Designated by the National Cancer Institute

Markey Cancer Center is designated by the National Cancer Institute as a Comprehensive Cancer Center – a distinction that recognizes our commitment to accelerating precision cancer research and care to patients. We are the first and only NCI-Comprehensive Cancer Center in Kentucky, and one of 57 in the nation.