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Thyroid cancer develops in the tissues of the thyroid, a small, butterfly-shaped gland in the front of your neck. Your thyroid gland makes hormones that control your metabolism — or how your body uses energy. These hormones affect nearly every organ in your body and control many of your body's most important functions.

Thyroid cancer: Types

  • Papillary is the most common type, and spreads slowly, making it the least dangerous type of thyroid cancer.
  • Follicular is more likely to return after treatment and spread.
  • Medullary is cancer of non-thyroid cells present in the thyroid gland.
  • Anaplastic is rare but spreads quickly and can be very dangerous.

Thyroid cancer: What you need to know

  • Thyroid cancer may not cause symptoms in the early stages. As the cancer grows, you may feel a lump (nodule) in the neck, have difficulty breathing or swallowing or experience changes in your voice.
  • The majority of nodules are benign. The best way to diagnose thyroid cancer is to do a biopsy.
  • Once a nodule is discovered, either by exam or ultrasound, a fine needle aspiration should be done to determine if the nodule is malignant. The biopsy is typically performed by an endocrinologist or radiologist.
  • Treatment is determined by the type of cancer and how far the cancer has advanced, yet surgery is the standard treatment. Other options include radiation therapy, hormone therapy and chemotherapy.
  • Thyroid cancer that is found at an early stage can often be treated successfully.

Why choose UF Health Jacksonville?

Many specialists, one goal

  • At UF Health Jacksonville Cancer Center, our highly trained specialists are part of a multidisciplinary team of physicians who work together with one goal in mind — to design a treatment plan that will provide you with the best possible outcome.
  • These University of Florida surgeons, medical oncologists, radiation oncologists and other cancer specialists have years of experience diagnosing and treating thyroid cancers.

Advanced treatments and facilities

  • As a part of a leading academic medical institution, our team has access to the most advanced research-based techniques available. They will incorporate these options into an individualized plan that uses the latest therapeutic innovations.
  • In addition, state-of-the-art treatment for stomach cancer is also available at the UF Health Proton Therapy Institute, located on the UF Health Jacksonville campus. Proton therapy, which has proven to be very effective in fighting cancers, offers patients advanced treatment with minimal side effects. It can reduce the body dose of radiation more than 40% compared with standard radiation therapy.
  • The Cancer Center at UF Health Jacksonville also offers support groups and classes for cancer patients and caregivers. Our team provides a safe place to ask questions or share concerns.
What patients should expect during a thyroid biopsy

Related conditions & treatments

Commission on Cancer Accredited Program - A Quality Program of the American College of Surgeons

The UF Health Jacksonville cancer program is accredited by the Commission on Cancer, a quality program of the American College of Surgeons.

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