Cancer Care

Thyroid Cancer and Other Endocrine Tumors

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Tumors of the thyroid, parathyroid, and adrenal glands are types of endocrine tumors. Their treatment benefits from a team approach, bringing together all the healthcare providers a patient may need. The endocrine tumor specialists at NewYork-Presbyterian Brooklyn Methodist Hospital have the experience and skills to provide the latest therapies in a warm, personalized environment. Our goal is to achieve a cure while maximizing your quality of life.

The Team You Need

Our specialists are highly experienced in accurately diagnosing all types of thyroid cancer and other endocrine tumors, and matching patients with the most effective therapies. Depending on the type and stage of your tumor, your team may include endocrinologists, endocrine surgeons, head and neck surgeons, medical and radiation oncologists, speech therapists, and others with experience treating people with endocrine and adrenal tumors—including papillary and follicular thyroid cancer, as well as rarer cancers like medullary thyroid carcinoma, anaplastic carcinoma, thyroid lymphoma, and thyroid sarcoma.

Helping You Choose the Best Care

In the field of endocrine surgery, there are often many different solutions for a single problem. No two patients are the same. We tailor your treatment options to your medical history, personal preferences, and concerns, offering all of the options available to help you make an informed decision about your care. 

Genetic Counseling and Testing

Some types of endocrine cancer are linked to genes passed down in families, such as multiple endocrine neoplasia (MEN) I and II. We provide genetic counseling and testing for patients and their families at increased risk of medullary thyroid cancer and other endocrine tumors. If you learn your family has a genetic mutation that increases your risk, we may monitor you and recommend certain measures to decrease your risk. For patients with "indeterminate" thyroid nodules—growths for which it is hard to tell if they are benign or malignant using standard pathology techniques—we can perform genetic testing to gather additional information. Ultimately, these patients may need surgery to remove the gland if we cannot determine if the nodule is benign or cancerous.

Minimally Invasive Thyroid Cancer Surgery

Most thyroid cancers are curable and are treated with surgery to remove part or all of the gland, depending on the extent of growth of your tumor. At NewYork-Presbyterian Brooklyn Methodist, our surgeons are very experienced performing thyroid cancer surgery using minimally invasive approaches that result in smaller incisions, less discomfort after surgery, and a quicker return to your normal activities. We are able to offer minimally invasive surgery to most of our patients.

Medical Treatments for Thyroid Cancer

After surgery for thyroid cancer, some patients may receive hormonal therapies or other medications to maintain good health. Your endocrinologist will let you know if this type of treatment is part of your care.

  • Hormonal therapy. Your thyroid normally produces thyroid hormone, which you need for normal metabolism. After your thyroid is surgically removed, your doctor will prescribe levothyroxine (thyroid hormone) to replace your thyroid function. Your team will perform blood tests to monitor your thyroid hormone levels, specifically thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH), to make sure you are taking a dose that works best for you.
  • Anticancer therapies. People with thyroid lymphoma, anaplastic thyroid cancer, and medullary thyroid cancer may receive chemotherapy or radiation to shrink the tumor. There are also several targeted therapies approved to treat persistent thyroid cancers, such as cabozantinib, vandetanib, lenvatinib, and sorafenib. Because these targeted medications are taken by mouth, you can take them at home.

Radioactive Iodine for Thyroid Cancer

Radioactive iodine is sometimes recommended for more aggressive thyroid cancers. It is given as a single dose of radiation taken in a small capsule to try to kill any thyroid cancer cells that may remain in your body after surgery, and thus to reduce the chance of the cancer coming back. We typically prescribe this treatment if you had papillary or follicular thyroid cancer (and some Hurthle cell carcinomas) that spread to lymph nodes or other parts of your body. Radioactive iodine is only taken up by thyroid cells and some thyroid cancer cells, and so the side effects associated with treatment are generally minimal.

Highly Focused Radiation Therapy for Thyroid Cancer

If you have thyroid cancer that has spread or cannot be effectively treated with radioactive iodine or other therapies, you may have traditional external radiation therapy. Our radiation treatment center offers highly focused radiation therapy that takes aim at tumors while sparing as much nearby healthy tissue as possible, reducing the risk of side effects.

Care of Patients with Adrenal and Parathyroid Tumors

While thyroid cancer is the most common type of endocrine cancer, our team is also experienced in the diagnosis and treatment of benign tumors affecting the adrenal and parathyroid glands.

  • Adrenal tumors may produce excess hormones that can adversely affect your quality of life. They are best treated through surgical removal of the affected adrenal gland, which we typically do in a minimally invasive manner ("laparoscopic adrenalectomy").
  • Parathyroid tumors may cause high levels of calcium in the blood, increasing the risk of osteoporosis and possibly damage to organs such as the kidneys, bones, heart, and blood vessels. They rarely affect more than one of the four glands. Typically, only the affected gland needs to be surgically removed—resulting in a cure in more than 95 percent of patients.

Access to Clinical Trials

NewYork-Presbyterian Brooklyn Methodist participates in clinical studies evaluating novel treatments to advance the care of people with thyroid cancer and other endocrine tumors, especially those whose disease does not respond well to standard therapies. Your doctor will let you know if you may be eligible to participate in a clinical trial of a promising new therapy.