​Thyroid Cancer​

Abnormal cell growth in the thyroid gland is known as thyroid cancer. Thyroid gland is an organ located in the neck, which produces hormones to regulate your body’s metabolism including bloo​​d pressure, heart rate, body temperature and weight. 

It is a rare form of cancer which is treatable if found early. 

Thyroid cancer is more prevalent in women than in men. Other risk factors include exposure to radiation, genetics, lack of iodine, and history of goitre. ​

There are rarely any signs or symptoms of thyroid cancer in its early stages. Symptoms may develop in later stages including:

  • Lump in the neck
  • Hoarseness
  • Pain in your neck and throat
  • Difficulty in swallowing and breathing
  • Swollen lymph nodes in your neck

Despite the lack of noticeable symptoms, vigilance on your part and early consultation with a specialist at the Oncology Service Line at The Aga Khan University Hospital, as soon as you notice any of the above mentioned symptoms can lead to prompt diagnosis and successful treatment.

Your time with your doctor maybe limited, so make sure to prepare for your visit beforehand. Here are some tips to help get you started.

​​Diagnosis involves the following tests:

  • Physical exam to check the swellings in your neck, enlargement of the thyroid and your overall general health

  • Blood test to check the level of thyroid hormones to determine if thyroid gland is functioning normally.

  • Fine-needle aspiration biopsy to collect a sample of the thyroid tissue, using a long thin needle inserted through the skin, for testing. 

  • Thyroid scan is done to obtain an image of the thyroid on a computer using a special camera and radioactive iodine (taken orally).

  • Genetic testing which is a blood test to study your genetic information. 

  • Imaging tests including Computerized Tomography (CT) scan, Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI), Positron Emission Tomography (PET) or ultrasound to check if the cancer has spread to other parts of the body.

There may be a simple reason for your symptoms but if your diagnoses confirm the presence of malignant cells in your thyroid, your doctor will discuss your treatment options with you considering your age, preference and general health.

The treatments include:

  • Surgery to remove all or most of the thyroid (thyroidectomy), the lymph nodes in the neck or a portion of the thyroid (thyroid lobectomy).

  • Radioactive iodine in which high doses of radioactive iodine will be given to you to be taken orally. The iodine destroys any cancerous cells without harming the healthy tissues. This treatment is often done after the surgery to remove any microscopic areas of thyroid cancer that were not removed by surgery.

  • Radiation therapy to kill the cancerous cells by using high dose of X-rays externally over your body or by placing a radiation-filled device such as needles, catheters or others into the body.

  • Chemotherapy to kill the cancerous cells using chemicals.

  • Hormone therapy to suppress the production of thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) which might cause the cancer to spread or recur. 

The Aga Khan University Hospital offers various support services to help with managing or recovering from the disease or condition. These include but are not limited to nutrition, physiotherapy, rehabilitation, specialized clinics and some patient support groups. Your doctor or nurse will advise you accordingly.

The Aga Khan University Hospital offers financial assistance to those who are in need and fulfil the eligibility criteria. For further information, you can contact the Patient Welfare Department. You can find the contact number of the Patient Welfare Department in the ‘Important Numbers’ section on the website homepage.

The financial counselling staff is available during office hours, at the main PBSD (Patient Business Services Department), to answer your financial queries on treatments’ costs and authorize admissions on partial deposit as per hospital policies allow. The financial counsellor in the emergency room is open 24/7. You can find the contact number of the Patient Business Services in the ‘Important Numbers’ section on the website homepage.

Your doctor and or nurse will give you specific instructions about the prescribed medication. Please ensure that you take or use the prescribed medicine as advised. It can be dangerous to your health if you self-prescribe. Please inform the doctor or nurse beforehand if you have experienced any adverse reactions to any medications in the past. If you experience any symptoms of drug poisoning, overdose or severe reaction please contact the Pharmacy Service at The Aga Khan University Hospital immediately. You can find the contact number of the Pharmacy Services in the ‘Important Numbers’ section on the website homepage.

​​The information provided on our website is for educational purposes and not intended to be a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. You should always seek the advice of your doctor or other healthcare professional provider.