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Thyroid Cancer: A Rising Trend But Minimal Threat

Thyroid cancer has grown in occurrence, but can be easily treated in most instances.
Thyroid cancer has grown in occurrence, but can be easily treated in most instances. Photo Credit: iStock.com_Dr_Microbe

Cancer of the thyroid -- a gland in the neck that produces a variety of hormones -- is the most common endocrine cancer. Diagnosed nearly three times as often in women as men, thyroid cancer has been the most rapidly increasing cancer, tripling in incidence over the last three decades.

The good news is that the chance of dying from thyroid cancer has remained steadily low. Today, virtually anyone diagnosed with stage I or II papillary or follicular thyroid cancer is cured.

If thyroid cancer is found, most patients have surgery to remove part or all of the thyroid gland, depending on the extent of tumor growth. After surgery, patients may undergo a variety of treatments:

  • Hormone replacement therapy with thyroxine (thyroid hormone) to replace lost thyroid function, with periodic monitoring of thyroid hormone levels.
  • Radioactive iodine to kill any thyroid cancer cells remaining in the body.
  • Anticancer drugs, such as paclitaxel (for thyroid lymphoma, anaplastic thyroid cancer, and medullary thyroid cancer) or an oral targeted therapy, such as cabozantinib or vandetanib (for inoperable or advanced medullary thyroid cancer) and lenvatinib or sorafenib (for advanced thyroid cancers that do not respond well to radioactive iodine).
  • Radiation therapy for patients with thyroid cancer that has spread or cannot be effectively treated with radioactive iodine or other therapies.

Some types of thyroid cancer are linked to inherited genes. Genetic counseling and testing can benefit patients and their families with a history of uncommon tumors such as medullary thyroid cancer. Patients may be monitored to detect thyroid cancer early, and some have the thyroid surgically removed as a means of preventing cancer.

NewYork-Presbyterian's multidisciplinary thyroid cancer programs feature specialists who are highly experienced in quickly and accurately diagnosing all types of thyroid cancer and matching patients with the most effective therapies. At academic medical centers such as NewYork-Presbyterian, patients with advanced thyroid cancer may also be able to participate in clinical trials of promising treatments.

NewYork-Presbyterian Cancer Centers provide high-quality, comprehensive cancer care at convenient locations throughout the New York metropolitan area, Westchester and the Lower Hudson Valley. NYP Cancer Centers provide a comprehensive program of cancer services in a state-of-the-art, comfortable environment. Board certified, disease-focused medical oncologists are part of the multidisciplinary team of cancer specialists who provide each patient with an individualized plan of care. To find a location, visit

NewYork-Presbyterian is one of the largest and most comprehensive hospitals in the nation, ranked New York’s No. 1 hospital for the 16th consecutive year, and No. 6 in the United States, according to U.S. News & World Report. Affiliated with two academic medical colleges – Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons and Weill Cornell Medicine, NewYork-Presbyterian brings together internationally recognized researchers and clinicians to develop and implement the latest approaches for prevention, diagnosis and treatment. The Herbert Irving Comprehensive Cancer Center at NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia University Medical Center is one of only three NCI-designated comprehensive cancer centers in New York State. NewYork-Presbyterian provides comprehensive cancer care at all of our locations across the New York Metro area, including Westchester County and the Hudson Valley. Learn more at