Thyroid cancer begins in the thyroid gland which is located in the front of the neck just below the larynx. The thyroid gland is part of the endocrine system, which regulates hormones in the body. The thyroid gland absorbs iodine from the bloodstream to produce thyroid hormones, which regulate a person’s metabolism.
A normal thyroid gland has 2 lobes, which are joined by a narrow strip of tissue called the band. A healthy thyroid gland is barely palpable, which means it’s hard to find by touch. If a tumor grows in the thyroid, then it may feel like a sore throat. A swollen or exaggerated thyroid gland is called a goiter, which can be caused when a person does not have enough iodine in their body. Most people get enough iodine from salt, so the goiter under these conditions is caused by other reasons.
Thyroid Cancer Types
There are 5 main types of thyroid cancer:
Papillary Thyroid Cancer (PTC).
Papillary thyroid cancer develops from the follicular cells and usually develops slowly. It is the most common type of thyroid cancer. It is usually found in 1 lobe. Only 10% to 20% of papillary thyroid cancer occurs in both lobes. Papillary thyroid cancer can often spread to lymph nodes (metastasis).
Follicular Thyroid Cancer.
Follicular cancer also develops from the follicular cells and usually develops slowly. It is less common than papillary thyroid cancer. Papillary thyroid cancer rarely spreads to the lymph nodes.
Overall, papillary and follicular thyroid cancer account approximately 95% of all thyroid cancers.
Hurthle cell cancer.
Hurthle cell cancer results from a specific type of follicular cell. Hurthle cell cancer is much more likely to metastasize to lymph nodes than other thyroid cancers.
Medullary Thyroid Cancer.
The MTC is developed from the C cells and sometimes it is the result of a genetic syndrome called multiple endocrine neoplasia type 2 (MEN2). MTC accounts for about 3% of all thyroid cancers. About 25% of all MTCs are hereditary. This means that family members of the patient will be more likely to have a similar diagnosis. The molecular examination of the RET proto-oncogene can confirm whether family members also have a familial/hereditary MTC.
Reconstructive Thyroid cancer.
This type is rare, accounting for approximately 1% of thyroid cancer. It is a rapidly growing, low differentiation thyroid cancer that can be triggered by another type of thyroid cancer or a benign thyroid tumor. Because this type of thyroid cancer is growing rapidly, it is more difficult to be treated successfully.
The tool that doctors use to stage thyroid cancer is the TNM system. Doctors use the results from the histological examination (pTNM) and scans (CT scan, MRI, etc.) to answer the questions:
Tumor (T tumor-): How big is the primary tumor? Where is it located?
Lymph node (N-node): Has the tumor metastasized to the lymph nodes? If so, where and in how many lymph nodes?
Metastasis (M-metastasis): Has cancer metastasized to other parts of the body? If so, where and to what extent?
The results are combined to determine the stage of cancer for each person individual. For thyroid cancer, there are 5 stages: stage 0 (zero) and stages I to IV (1 to 4).
Staging can be clinical or pathological. The clinical staging is based on the results of the tests before the surgery, which may include a physical examination and imaging test. The pathologic staging based on histological examination is made in a tissue sample or organ that is removed during a surgery or a biopsy. In general, histopathological staging provides most of the information for determining a patient’s prognosis.
It is common for people with thyroid cancer to have few or no symptoms. Thyroid cancers are often diagnosed by a routine examination of the throat during a general physical examination. They are also unintentionally discovered by X-rays or other imaging techniques performed for other reasons. People with thyroid cancer may have the following symptoms or signs:
Sometimes, people with thyroid cancer experience none of these changes. Or, the cause of a symptom may be a different, non-cancerous condition.
A swelling, projection on the front of the neck, near Adam’s apple
Swollen lymph nodes in the neck
Difficulty in swallowing
Difficulty in breathing
Cough that persists and is not due to a cold
If you are concerned about any changes you are experiencing, contact your clinician.
These symptoms may be due to thyroid cancer or other thyroid problems, such as goiter, or a non-thyroid-related condition, such as an infection.
For most types of cancer, a biopsy is the only sure way for a doctor to know if an area of the body has cancer. In a biopsy, the doctor takes a small sample of tissue for histological examination in a pathological laboratory. If the biopsy is not possible, your doctor may suggest other tests to help the diagnosis.
Your doctor will look at these factors when choosing a diagnostic test:
The type of cancer suspected
Your age and general health
The results of previous medical examinations
This section describes options for diagnosing thyroid cancer. Not all of the tests listed below are used for everyone.
- Physical examination
- Blood tests (thyroid hormone test
- Ultrasound of the thyroid gland, CT scan, Radioisotopes, PET scan
is the removal of a small amount of tissue for microscopic examination (histological examination). Only a biopsy can make a clear diagnosis. It is the standard way to determine if a nodule is cancerous or benign. During this procedure, the doctor removes the cells from the nodule which are then examined by a cytopathologist. The cytopathologist is the doctor who specializes in cell analysis (while the pathologist specializes in tissue analysis) to diagnose diseases. This biopsy is often conducted with the help of ultrasound.
A biopsy for thyroid nodules will be performed in 1 of these 2 ways:
Fine needle aspiration biopsy (FNAB). This procedure is usually performed in a doctor’s office or clinic. It is an important diagnostic step to determine if a thyroid nodule is benign or cancerous. The doctor inserts a thin needle into the nodule and removes the cells and a little fluid. The procedure can be repeated 2 or 3 times to take samples from different areas of the nodule. In Microdiagnostic Pathologists & Cytologists who specialize in interpreting laboratory tests and evaluating cells, tissues and organs, they work together for the final diagnosis. The test may be positive, which means, there are cancerous cells, or negative, which means that there are no cancerous cells. The test may also be unspecified, which means it is not clear if there is cancer.
Surgical biopsy. If the needle aspiration biopsy does not give a clear result (unspecified), the doctor may suggest a biopsy in which the nodule and possibly the thyroid lobe should be surgically removed. Removal of the nodule alone is usually not recommended due to the possibility of removing the possible malignancy without sufficient surgical margins, which is the area of the tissue around the nodule.
- Molecular examination of the nodule sample. Your doctor may recommend that a molecular test should be performed on a sample in order to identify specific genes, proteins, and other factors unique to the tumor. Genetic analysis of your thyroid nodule may help us understand the risk of thyroid cancer being cancerous.
A risk factor is anything that increases a person’s chances of developing cancer. Although risk factors are often associated with the development of cancer, most of them do not directly cause cancer. Some people with many risk factors never develop cancer, while others without known risk factors develop it.
Knowing the risk factors and discussing them with your doctor can help you make more informed choices about your lifestyle and health care.
The following factors may increase a person’s risk of developing thyroid cancer:
Women are diagnosed with 3 out of every 4 cases of thyroid cancer.
Thyroid cancer can occur at any age, but about 2/3 of all cases occur in people aged from 20 to 55 years old. Reconstructive thyroid cancer is usually diagnosed after the age of 60. Infants (10 months and older) and adolescents may develop myeloid thyroid carcinoma (MTC), especially if they carry the RET proto-oncogenic mutation.
Some types of thyroid cancer are linked to genetics. Below are some key facts about thyroid cancer, genes, and family history. If you are interested in learning more about your personal genetic risk of developing cancer, read this article about hereditary cancer.
A mutated RET oncogene, which can be passed from parent to child, can cause myeloid thyroid carcinoma (MTC). This does not mean that everyone with a mutated RET oncogene will develop cancer. Blood tests and molecular tests can detect the gene. Once the mutated RET oncogene is detected, your doctor may recommend surgery to remove the thyroid gland before cancer develops. People with myeloid MTC myeloid carcinoma are encouraged to have molecular tests to see if there is a mutation in the RET proto-oncogene. If so, you will be recommended genetic testing by parents, siblings, and children.
A family history of MTC increases a person’s risk. People with MEN2 syndrome are also at risk of developing other types of cancer.
A family history of precancerous polyps in the colon, also called the large intestine, increases the risk of developing thyroid cancer.
Exposure to moderate levels of radiation to the head and neck can increase the risk of thyroid cancer. Such sources of exposure include:
Actinotherapy for Hodgkin’s lymphoma or other forms of lymphoma in the head and the neck.
Exposure to radioactive iodine is also called I-131 or RAI, especially in childhood.
Exposure to ionizing radiation,
Low iodine diet. Iodine is needed for normal thyroid function.
White people and Asian people are more likely to develop thyroid cancer, but this disease can affect a person of any race or nationality.
A recent study showed that breast cancer survivors may have a higher risk of developing thyroid cancer, especially in the first 5 years after they’ve been diagnosed, and those diagnosed with breast cancer at a younger age. This finding is still being investigated by researchers.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
The PredictArray Thyroid is conducted in the biopsy material (paraffin block, FFPET) or FNAB cytology material (Cellblock) on which your histological or cytological examination was based upon.
Your doctor has performed a fine needle aspiration biopsy (FNAB) for extracting cells from the nodule/nodules in your thyroid, so as to examine if the nodule is benign or cancerous. If the result of the cytological examination is unspecified, then PredictArray Thyroid can help us understand whether the nodule is benign or not. The examination is checking for mutations in 7 specific genes.
You will need to bring the sample in which your cytological examination was conducted (sample of fine-needle aspiration biopsy FNAB)
Contact us on 2310 23 22 72 to assist you.
It usually takes 6 business days.
In case more time is needed you will be informed in time.
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In full compliance with the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), we ensure that you are aware and conscious for any examination will be conducted and we do not announce results via phone calls.