Thyroid Cancer

Thyroid cancer is usually slow growing and often detected in its early stages when the five-year survival rate is more than 98%.

Nationally Ranked Care

Trust us to effectively treat and manage your thyroid or parathyroid cancer because we are the region's only federally recognized Comprehensive Cancer Center. Studies show that patient outcomes are better at these special places. In addition, our cancer care, ear, nose and throat care, and endocrinology care are ranked among the nation's best by U.S. News & World Report.

All this means you receive truly personalized care from a team of medical specialists who can comprehensively diagnose, treat and manage your thyroid condition.

Diagnostic Tests and Imaging

Most thyroid nodules are not cancerous, but it’s important to have them checked out by an expert — so you get the right care

Count on us to accurately diagnose your thyroid or parathyroid disorder because our endocrinologists — doctors who specialize in hormone conditions — have earned the Endocrine Certification in Neck Ultrasound from the American College of Endocrinology. This certification recognizes our expertise in using ultrasound and ultrasound-guided fine needle aspiration (FNA) to evaluate thyroid nodules.

Types of Tests

In addition to a physical exam of your throat, thyroid and lymph nodes, you may have one or more of the following to diagnose your condition.

Thyroid Cancer Treatment

Receive a treatment plan personalized to your diagnosis and quality of life preferences. You’ll find a full range of treatments at UC San Diego Health.

Thyroid Cancer Surgery 

Most people with thyroid cancer have surgery. UC San Diego Health surgeons are experts at minimally invasive techniques that reduce incision size and shorten recovery times. In most cases, you’ll return home the same day as your surgery. Depending on the size and location of your tumor, your doctor may recommend:

  • Total thyroidectomy, in which the entire thyroid gland is removed
  • Partial thyroidectomy, in which part of the thyroid gland is removed. This approach is used when the tumor is small and contained.

Radiation Therapy for Thyroid Cancer

Radiation therapy precisely targets cells that are or may become cancerous. The two most common therapeutic radiation approaches for thyroid cancer are:

  • Radioactive iodine pills, which destroy thyroid tissue left after surgery
  • External beam radiation for rare cases of recurrent or advanced cancer  

Chemotherapy for Thyroid Cancer

During chemotherapy, you will take anti-cancer drugs by mouth or through an injection. Chemotherapy is sometimes combined with external beam radiation therapy to treat anaplastic thyroid cancer.

Targeted Therapy for Thyroid Cancer

A unique type of chemotherapy, targeted therapy drugs identify the programming of cancer cells that make them different than normal cells. Targeted therapy helps prevent cancer recurrence and also keeps cancer from spreading. It is often used along with other cancer treatments.

Clinical Trials

Advancing Cancer Care and Prevention

UC San Diego Health physicians are actively researching ways to improve cancer care. By joining a clinical trial, you may receive a new cancer treatment before it is available to the public. If your cancer has not responded to standard therapies, talk to your doctor about whether a clinical trial could be right for you.

Thyroid Cancer Care Team

At UC San Diego Health, your cancer care is led by a multidisciplinary team of doctors who specialize in your type of cancer. Highly specialized multidisciplinary care is a hallmark of top-tier academic medical centers such as UC San Diego Health. For patients like you, it means you receive the highest level of care. Find a provider with expertise in thyroid cancer.

Patient & Family Support Services

At UC San Diego Health, your care goes beyond treating disease. It also includes supporting you and your loved ones emotionally throughout your cancer journey. Most of our support services are free.

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