What is Pediatric Thyroid Carcinoma (Cancer)?
Thyroid cancer is cancer of the thyroid gland, an organ at the base of the neck that produces hormones that help control heart rate, blood pressure, body temperature and weight.
- Personal diagnosis of MEN
- A family history of goiter or thyroid cancer
- Previous radiation exposure to the head and neck
- Treatment for previous childhood cancer, particularly Hodgkin’s lymphoma
What are the different types of Pediatric Thyroid Carcinoma (Cancer)?
There are four types of thyroid cancer:
Papillary is the most common type in the U.S., and most children with papillary thyroid cancer can be cured if it is diagnosed early.
Follicular is the second most common type in the U.S., and most children with follicular thyroid cancer can be treated successfully if it is diagnosed early.
Medullary is a rare type of thyroid cancer, medullary cancer tends to be more aggressive. It can be easier to control if it’s found and treated before it spreads to other parts of the body.
Anaplastic is the rarest type of thyroid cancer, these cells tend to grow and spread very quickly. Anaplastic thyroid cancer is very hard to control, but occurs almost exclusively in adults.
What are the signs and symptoms of Pediatric Thyroid Carcinoma (Cancer)?
Many children with thyroid cancer do not have any symptoms until their disease has progressed. Thyroid cancer symptoms may include:
How is Pediatric Thyroid Carcinoma (Cancer) diagnosed?
There are several methods for diagnosing thyroid cancer. Your child’s doctor may use a combination of these methods:
- History and physical exam
- Blood tests to check thyroid hormone levels (thyroid stimulating hormone and calcitonin)
- Genetic testing
- Urine test
- Ultrasound (a noninvasive test that uses sound waves to take pictures of the thyroid)
- Fine needle biopsy (removal of a small amount of thyroid tissue using a thin needle; the tissue is later examined under a microscope.)
What are the causes of Pediatric Thyroid Carcinoma (Cancer)?
The exact cause of thyroid cancer is unknown. As with all types of cancers, it is characterized by the growth of abnormal cells that often multiply quickly, forming what is known as a tumor.
How is Pediatric Thyroid Carcinoma (Cancer) treated?
The most common treatment for thyroid cancer is surgery to remove all or part of the thyroid gland. A thyroid lobectomy is followed by radioactive therapy. Although pediatric thyroid cancer is usually caught at an advanced stage, it has an excellent prognosis, with long-term survival rates of over 95%.
Additional treatments may include:
- Thyroid hormone therapy: an oral medication taken after surgery to replace the hormones that your child’s body will no longer be able to produce
- Radioactive iodine: an oral medication that destroys any remaining thyroid tissue after surgery
- External radiation therapy: radiation to the neck or other tissues where the cancer may have spread
- Chemotherapy: an oral or intravenous (IV) medication that is used to kill cancer cells