Medullary thyroid cancer

Also known as: medullary carcinoma, medullary carcinoma of the thyroid gland, MTC

What is a medullary thyroid cancer?

The thyroid is a midline endocrine gland ( secretes hormones ) found at the base of the neck. Medullary thyroid cancer (MTC) is a form of cancer that originates in a particular cell in the thyroid gland. This particular cell secretes a hormone ( calcitonin ) that plays an important role regulating calcium levels in the body. It occurs much more commonly in girls.

What causes medullary thyroid cancer? 

MTC is caused by a spontaneous or inherited ( runs in families ) change in a specific gene that allows the cells to grow without any control. Medullary thyroid cancer is usually found in children who have tumors of other endocrine tissues ( multiple endocrine neoplasia ).

What are the signs/symptoms of medullary thyroid cancer?

Signs/symptoms include a lump in, or an enlarged thyroid gland ( goiter ), hoarseness, difficulty breathing, and enlarged lymph nodes in the neck.

What are medullary thyroid cancer care options? 

Surgery to remove part or all of the thyroid is usually recommended ( with or without removing the neck lymph nodes ). Radioactive iodine, radiation and/or chemotherapy may be required.

Reviewed by: Jack Wolfsdorf, MD, FAAP

This page was last updated on: 10/31/2017 11:54:40 AM

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