Our Approach to Thyroid Cancer

Siteman’s thyroid cancer program can provide broad-based treatments because of its strong multidisciplinary approach. The team includes endocrinologists, surgeons, medical and radiation oncologists, radiologists and pathologists.

Experienced nurses spend time with you, answering your questions and putting you in touch with resources that may help during this stressful time. These nurses can offer patient literature on your condition, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, surgery and other related issues. As a unique feature of your care, we also offer the services of a palliative care specialist who can help you fit treatment into your own special circumstances, if needed.

Some of the thyroid cancers treated include:

Papillary and Follicular Thyroid Cancer: Thyroid cancer arising from the follicular cells of the thyroid – such as papillary or follicular thyroid cancer – is among the most curable of all cancers. About 86 of every 100 people with thyroid cancer have papillary cancer. It begins in follicular cells and usually grows slowly. Most people with papillary thyroid cancer will be cured. The required operation, however, can have significant complications if it is not performed expertly. Our surgeons have extensive experience in performing this surgery and in counseling patients about selecting the operative procedure that is best for them.

Medullary Cancer: This form of thyroid carcinoma originates from the parafollicular cells, which produce the hormone calcitonin. Medullary tumors are the third most common of all thyroid cancers. They make up about 3% of all thyroid cancer cases and can be associated with a genetic cause, such as the inherited MEN2 syndrome. Siteman has more experience in treating medullary cancer than any other center in the world, and has pioneered several aspects of its management.

Anaplastic Thyroid Cancer: This thyroid cancer (ATC) is a rare, but very serious, aggressive cancer, representing only 1-2% of all thyroid cancers. People with anaplastic cancer are usually older with an average age at diagnosis of 65 to 75 years, with twice as many women as men.

Types of treatment used for thyroid cancer depend on the type of thyroid cancer, the stage at which it is diagnosed, and extent of the disease.

Washington University surgeons and oncologists at the Siteman Cancer Center treat almost 200 thyroid cancer patients a year, and are internationally recognized for their expertise.

Siteman cancer physicians are actively involved in clinical trials that investigate new chemotherapy regimens, and other approaches to cure. Having your cancer treated at Siteman gives you access to new therapies that are as good as – or potentially better than – current standard therapies available elsewhere.