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NCCN Guidelines for Patients



Thyroid Cancer, Version 1.2017


Thyroid cancer

Thyroid cancer

People at risk

Thyroid cancer is more likely to occur in women

than men. You can be diagnosed with thyroid cancer

at any age. The number of people diagnosed with

thyroid cancer increases at age 50. People who

received radiation treatment to the head and neck

area at a young age are at risk for thyroid cancer.

This increases the risk of developing thyroid cancer

later in life. Contact with ionizing radiation is the only

thing in the environment known to cause thyroid

cancer. Obesity is also a risk factor

for thyroid


Having more than one first-degree relative (mom,

dad, sibling, or child) with thyroid cancer puts you at

risk of developing thyroid cancer. Certain inherited

diseases are considered risk factors for thyroid

cancer. This includes FAP (






olyposis) that causes benign growths (polyps) in

the large intestine (colon). FAP puts someone at

risk for colon cancer and other cancers like papillary

thyroid cancer. Other inherited diseases involving the

thyroid like Carney complex, Cowden’s syndrome,

and MEN







eoplasia) types 2A or

2B can put someone at risk for thyroid cancer. These

inherited diseases can cause tumors (abnormal

masses of cells) to form. You will learn more about

treatment options for inherited medullary thyroid

cancer in Part 7.


Doctors need to assess your health and learn about

your symptoms. Keep in mind, symptoms of thyroid

cancer may be similar to those of other medical

conditions. Some people with thyroid cancer may

have only one symptom, others may have many, and

many people may have no symptoms at all.


Guide 2.

Your doctor may want to check for thyroid cancer

when he or she finds a nodule in the neck or thyroid.

He or she may also consider thyroid cancer based on

symptoms you share or findings on an imaging test

obtained for some other condition. Currently, there

is no screening test for thyroid cancer. Screening is

when tests are done on a regular basis to detect a

disease in someone without symptoms.

It is important to tell your doctor how you are feeling

during your visit or call if you have any symptoms.

Ask what tests you will have and why they are being

done. If your doctor suspects thyroid cancer, he or

she will check your neck and order tests to get more

information about your health. If needed, your doctor

can order an FNA (






spiration) biopsy to

further assess for thyroid cancer.

Guide 2. Symptoms


• Lump or nodule in the neck

• Neck pain

• Voice change

• Trouble breathing

• Problems swallowing

• Abnormal blood tests