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There are many ways you can help children and their families get the care they need.
There are three main types of thyroid cancer:
Doctors have discovered that unusually high exposure to radiation can cause children to develop thyroid cancer—this is one reason that radiation is no longer used to treat benign conditions. And in rare cases, thyroid cancers can be familial. But the vast majority of children who develop thyroid cancer—about 90 percent—have no known risk factors for the disease whatsoever.
Early detection and prevention
As with other cancers, the outcome of thyroid cancer is best when it is diagnosed and treated in its early stages. Our thyroid program is designed to rapidly evaluate patients with thyroid masses in order to deliver individualized treatment. Because medullary thyroid cancer sometimes occurs as part of a genetic[h1] disease, we typically offer genetic testing. If this testing shows that your child carries a genetic risk, your child’s physician will monitor your child and, in some cases, may suggest a prophylactic removal of your child’s thyroid.
When to seek medical advice
Often, a child’s thyroid cancer is detected by his primary care physician during the course of a routine well-child exam. But please don’t hesitate to contact your child’s doctor if you notice a lump in your child’s throat or if anyone in your family is diagnosed with medullary thyroid cancer.
Thyroid cancer is unquestionably serious, and your child’s prognosis will of course depend on the type of cancer, when it is diagnosed, and how it is treated. [h3] Fortunately, most children with thyroid cancer do respond very well to treatment.
[h1]Majority of medullary thyroid cancer in adults is sporadic rather than genetic. In children, the incidence of genetic vs. sporadic medullary thyroid cancer is unknown but likely varies dramatically from one part of the world to another (so would not generalize).
[h3]Most everyone says this (not controversial, so removed specific reference to me).
Q: Will my child be OK?
A: Thyroid cancer is unquestionably serious, and your child’s prognosis will of course depend on the type of cancer, when it is diagnosed and how it is treated. Fortunately, most children with thyroid cancer do respond very well to treatment.
Q: What are the symptoms of thyroid cancer?
A: Symptoms may include a lump in the neck, swollen lymph nodes, hoarseness or trouble with breathing or swallowing, but most children with thyroid cancer feel absolutely well at the time of diagnosis.
Q: Was my child’s cancer caused by exposure to radiation?
A: High radiation doses (such as those used to treat certain childhood cancers) may increase a child’s risk of developing thyroid cancer. Such exposures are fortunately very rare. In comparison, the radiation exposure from common radiology test (such as X-rays, CT imaging, or dental films) are very low and are not thought to increase a child’s risk of developing thyroid cancer.
After your child is diagnosed with thyroid cancer, you may feel overwhelmed with information. It can be easy to lose track of the questions that occur to you.
Lots of parents find it helpful to jot down questions as they arise—that way, when you talk to your child’s doctors, you can be sure that all of your concerns are addressed.
Here are some questions to get you started:
Keep family and friends up to date during your child’s treatment by creating a free Children’s CarePage.
We are grateful to have been ranked #1 on U.S. News & World Report's list of the best children's hospitals in the nation for the third year in a row, an honor we could not have achieved without the patients and families who inspire us to do our very best for them. Thanks to you, Boston Children's is a place where we can write the greatest children's stories ever told.”