medullary thyroid cancer

What is Medullary Thyroid Cancer?

Medullary thyroid cancer (MTC) is a rare type of thyroid cancer that begins in the cells of the thyroid gland. It is different from other types of thyroid cancer as it originates from different cells in the thyroid gland, referred to as C cells. These C cells produce a hormone called calcitonin, which helps the body control the amount of calcium in the blood.

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What are the Symptoms of Medullary Thyroid Cancer?

The most common symptom of Medullary thyroid cancer is a lump in the neck. Other symptoms can include:

  • Pain in the neck, throat or jaw
  • Hoarseness or other changes in the voice
  • Swallowing difficulties
  • Coughing
  • Breathing difficulties

Diagnosis of Medullary Thyroid Cancer

Your doctor may use a combination of imaging tests, blood tests and biopsies to diagnose Medullary thyroid cancer. The imaging tests most commonly used to diagnose the cancer are computed tomography (CT) scans and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). These tests can show the size and shape of the tumor and whether it has spread to other parts of the body.

Your doctor may also order blood tests to check for certain proteins in the blood, which can be an indication of MTC. Your doctor may also order a biopsy, which involves taking a sample of cells from the thyroid to examine them under a microscope for signs of the cancer.

Treatment of Medullary Thyroid Cancer

The treatment for medullary thyroid cancer usually involves surgery to remove the tumor and any lymph nodes that may have been affected by the cancer. In some cases, radiation and chemotherapy may be used as well. In severe cases, a total thyroidectomy (surgery to remove the entire thyroid gland) may be recommended.

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