Thyroid Cancer

Thyroid cancer is one of the fastest-growing cancer diagnoses – but with proper treatment, the prognosis is usually good.

Thyroid cancer is the ninth most common cancer in the U.S. The increase in incidence of thyroid cancer worldwide – and particularly in the U.S. – is primarily due to more early-stage cancers being detected.

Expertise and Innovation

UT Southwestern Medical Center has the experience that makes a difference in evaluating and managing thyroid nodules and in treating thyroid cancer.

Program Highlights

  • Multidisciplinary care teams include endocrinologists, surgeons, radiation oncologists, and ear, nose, and throat experts.
  • Our endocrinologists streamline initial evaluations – we’re often able to perform a physical exam, bedside ultrasonography, and thyroid nodule biopsies during the same visit.
  • Our surgeons perform hundreds of thyroid cancer surgeries each year.
  • We focus on scientific literature and evidence-based approaches to treatment.

About Thyroid Nodules and Thyroid Cancer

Thyroid nodules and thyroid cancer begin in the thyroid gland, which is located at the front of the neck, just above where the collarbones meet, and is the largest of our endocrine organs. Thyroid hormone – the main product of the thyroid gland – is important at all stages of life, including adulthood, during which it influences metabolism.

Thyroid conditions that we specialize in treating include:

  • Thryoid nodules ­– Mostly benign lumps within the thyroid gland, usually causing problems only if they grow too big or overproduce thyroid hormone. A minority of thyroid nodules also can harbor thyroid cancer.
  • Papillary thyroid cancer ­– The most common type of thyroid cancer, papillary carcinomas are slow-growing, differentiated cancersthat develop from thyroid follicular cells and can develop in one or both lobes of the thyroid This cancer may spread to nearby lymph nodes in the neck, but it is generally treatable with a good prognosis.
  • Follicular thyroid cancer ­– The second most common type of thyroid cancer, it develops from thyroid follicular cells and tends to grow slowly. It does not usually spread to nearby lymph nodes, but it is more likely than papillary cancers to spread to other organs, such as the lungs or the bones. 
  • Medullary thyroid cancer – Begins in thyroid C cells that produce the hormone calcitonin (which regulates calcium and phosphate blood levels and promotes bone growth). Elevated levels of calcitonin in the blood can be an indication of medullary thyroid cancer. This form of thyroid cancer is often associated with disorders of other endocrine glands. 
  • Anaplastic thyroid cancer ­– Only about 1 percent of all thyroid cancers are this aggressive form of the disease, and it is usually associated with a poor prognosis.

How We Can Help

We offer comprehensive thyroid cancer treatment that we personalize to meet your specific needs.

Our program includes:

  • Comprehensive initial evaluation and testing completed during one visit with your endocrinologist
  • Access to the latest treatments through clinical trials
  • Specially certified experts who can perform bedside ultrasound studies of the neck and thyroid gland, as well as ultrasound-guided fine-needle aspiration biopsies

In the rare advanced cases when chemotherapy is needed as adjunctive therapy, our patients have access to UT Southwestern’s Simmons Comprehensive Cancer Center, the only National Cancer Institute (NCI)-designated comprehensive cancer center in North Texas.

Meet the Team

Our physicians use evidence-based medicine to provide thyroid cancer patients with an exceptional level of care. Through teamwork, compassionate care, and extensive training with the latest scientific advances, we’re committed to putting our patients first. 

Many of our physicians are leaders in their field and are involved in the training of the next generation of thyroidologists. For example:

    • Alex Tessnow, M.D., ECNU, and Jeffrey Zigman, M.D., Ph.D., ECNU, have received professional certification in the field of neck ultrasonography from the American College of Endocrinology and routinely use ultrasound as a valued bedside tool for evaluative and diagnostic purposes.
    • David McFadden, M.D., Ph.D., is one of the leading experts on the molecular causes of thyroid cancer.
    • Thyroid and endocrine surgeon Ohwofiemu Nwariaku, M.D., FACS, is developing new drugs for medullary thyroid cancer based on his team’s discovery of a particular protein that causes medullary thyroid cancer cells to grow. 

Request an Appointment

To schedule an appointment with a thyroid specialist, complete our online form or call 214-645-8300.