Learn About Medullary Thyroid Carcinoma

What is the definition of Medullary Thyroid Carcinoma?

Medullary carcinoma of the thyroid is cancer of the thyroid gland that starts in cells that release a hormone called calcitonin. These cells are called "C" cells. The thyroid gland is located inside the front of your lower neck.

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What are the alternative names for Medullary Thyroid Carcinoma?

Thyroid - medullary carcinoma; Cancer - thyroid (medullary carcinoma); MTC; Thyroid nodule - medullary

What are the causes of Medullary Thyroid Carcinoma?

The cause of medullary carcinoma of the thyroid (MTC) is unknown. MTC is very rare. It can occur in children and adults.

Unlike other types of thyroid cancer, MTC is less likely to be caused by radiation therapy to the neck given to treat other cancers during childhood.

There are two forms of MTC:

  • Sporadic MTC, which does not run in families. Most MTCs are sporadic. This form mainly affects older adults.
  • Hereditary MTC, which runs in families.

You have an increased risk for this type of cancer if you have:

  • A family history of MTC
  • A family history of multiple endocrine neoplasia (MEN)
  • A prior history of pheochromocytoma, mucosal neuromas, hyperparathyroidism or pancreatic endocrine tumors

Other types of thyroid cancer include:

  • Anaplastic carcinoma of the thyroid
  • Follicular tumor of the thyroid
  • Papillary carcinoma of the thyroid
  • Thyroid lymphoma
What are the symptoms of Medullary Thyroid Carcinoma?

MTC often begins as a small lump (nodule) in the thyroid gland. There also may be lymph node swelling in the neck. As a result, symptoms may include:

  • Swelling of the neck
  • Hoarseness
  • Breathing problems due to narrowing of airways
  • Cough
  • Cough with blood
  • Diarrhea due to high calcitonin level
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What are the current treatments for Medullary Thyroid Carcinoma?

Treatment involves surgery to remove the thyroid gland and surrounding lymph nodes. Because this is an uncommon tumor, surgery should be performed by a surgeon who is familiar with this type of cancer and experienced with the operation required.

Further treatment will depend on your calcitonin levels. A rise in calcitonin levels again may indicate new growth of the cancer.

  • Chemotherapy and radiation do not work very well for this type of cancer.
  • Radiation is used in some people after surgery.
  • Newer targeted therapies may reduce tumor growth also. Your provider can tell you more about these, if needed.

Near relatives of persons diagnosed with hereditary forms of MTC are at increased risk of this cancer and should discuss with their providers.

Who are the top Medullary Thyroid Carcinoma Local Doctors?
Elite
Highly rated in
26
conditions
Endocrinology
Pediatrics

University of Texas System

Physicians Referral Service

1515 Holcombe Blvd 
Houston, TX 77030

Steven Waguespack is an Endocrinologist and a Pediatrics doctor in Houston, Texas. Dr. Waguespack has been practicing medicine for over 28 years and is rated as an Elite doctor by MediFind in the treatment of Medullary Thyroid Carcinoma. He is also highly rated in 26 other conditions, according to our data. His top areas of expertise are Thyroid Cancer, Medullary Thyroid Carcinoma, Anaplastic Thyroid Cancer, and Papillary Thyroid Cancer. He is licensed to treat patients in Texas. Dr. Waguespack is currently accepting new patients.

Elite
Highly rated in
22
conditions
Otolaryngology
General Surgery

University of Texas System

Physicians Referral Service

1515 Holcombe Blvd Unit 1445 
Houston, TX 77030

Mark Zafereo is an Otolaryngologist and a General Surgeon in Houston, Texas. Dr. Zafereo has been practicing medicine for over 17 years and is rated as an Elite doctor by MediFind in the treatment of Medullary Thyroid Carcinoma. He is also highly rated in 22 other conditions, according to our data. His top areas of expertise are Thyroid Cancer, Anaplastic Thyroid Cancer, Papillary Thyroid Cancer, and Medullary Thyroid Carcinoma. He is licensed to treat patients in Texas. Dr. Zafereo is currently accepting new patients.

 
 
 
 
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Elite
Highly rated in
51
conditions
Pediatrics
Pediatric Hematology Oncology
Hematology Oncology

University of Texas System

Physicians Referral Service

1515 Holcombe Blvd 
Houston, TX 77030

Vivek Subbiah is a Pediatrics specialist and a Pediatric Hematologist Oncology doctor in Houston, Texas. Dr. Subbiah has been practicing medicine for over 20 years and is rated as an Elite doctor by MediFind in the treatment of Medullary Thyroid Carcinoma. He is also highly rated in 51 other conditions, according to our data. His top areas of expertise are Medullary Thyroid Carcinoma, Thyroid Cancer, Adult Soft Tissue Sarcoma, and Anaplastic Thyroid Cancer. He is licensed to treat patients in Texas. Dr. Subbiah is currently accepting new patients.

What are the support groups for Medullary Thyroid Carcinoma?

You can ease the stress of illness by joining a cancer support group. Sharing with others who have common experiences and problems can help you not feel alone.

What is the outlook (prognosis) for Medullary Thyroid Carcinoma?

Most people with MTC live at least 5 years after diagnosis, depending upon the stage of the cancer. The 10-year survival rate is 65%.

What are the possible complications of Medullary Thyroid Carcinoma?

Complications may include:

  • Cancer spreads to other areas of the body
  • Parathyroid glands are accidentally removed during surgery
When should I contact a medical professional for Medullary Thyroid Carcinoma?

Call your provider if you have symptoms of MTC.

How do I prevent Medullary Thyroid Carcinoma?

Prevention may not be possible. But, being aware of your risk factors, especially your family history, may allow for early diagnosis and treatment. For people who have a very strong family history of MTC, the option to remove the thyroid gland may be recommended. You should carefully discuss this option with a doctor who is very familiar with the disease.

Thyroid cancer - CT scan
Thyroid gland
What are the latest Medullary Thyroid Carcinoma Clinical Trials?
A Phase 1/2 Study of the Highly-selective RET Inhibitor, BLU-667, in Patients With Thyroid Cancer, Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer (NSCLC) and Other Advanced Solid Tumors
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An International, Randomised, Double-Blind, Two-Arm Study To Evaluate The Safety And Efficacy Of Vandetanib 150 And 300mg/Day In Patients With Unresectable Locally Advanced Or Metastatic Medullary Thyroid Carcinoma With Progressive Or Symptomatic Disease
What are the Latest Advances for Medullary Thyroid Carcinoma?
First-in-Human Experience With 177Lu-DOTAGA.(SA.FAPi)2 Therapy in an Uncommon Case of Aggressive Medullary Thyroid Carcinoma Clinically Mimicking as Anaplastic Thyroid Cancer.
Application of serum markers in medullary thyroid carcinoma.
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The Prediction of Metastases of Lateral Cervical Lymph Node in Medullary Thyroid Carcinoma.
Who are the sources who wrote this article ?

Published Date : January 21, 2020
Published By : Robert Hurd, MD, Professor of Endocrinology and Health Care Ethics, Xavier University, Cincinnati, OH. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

What are the references for this article ?

Jonklass J, Cooper DS. Thyroid. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Goldman-Cecil Medicine. 26th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2020:chap 213.

National Cancer Institute website. Thyroid cancer treatment (adult) (PDQ) - health professional version. www.cancer.gov/types/thyroid/hp/thyroid-treatment-pdq. Updated January 30, 2020. Accessed March 6, 2020.

Smith PW, Hanks LR, Salomone LJ, Hanks JB. Thyroid. In: Townsend CM Jr, Beauchamp RD, Evers BM, Mattox KL, eds. Sabiston Textbook of Surgery. 20th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2017:chap 36.

Viola D, Elisei R. Management of medullary thyroid cancer. Endocrinol Metab Clin North Am. 2019;48(1):285-301. PMID: 30717909 pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30717909/.

Wells SA Jr, Asa SL, Dralle H. Revised American Thyroid Association guidelines for the management of medullary thyroid carcinoma. Thyroid. 2015;25(6):567-610. PMID: 25810047 pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25810047/.