Thyroid, Neck & Head

A neck mass may be a sign of an infection, or it may indicate a serious medical condition. It does not necessarily mean you have cancer, but it does mean you may need additional evaluation to receive an accurate diagnosis.

Thyroid, Neck & Head Issues

The physicians at Valley ENT Associates have specialized training in the diagnosis and treatment of benign and malignant tumors of the head and neck region, including tumors of the ears, nose, throat, neck, larynx, salivary glands, thyroid and parathyroid glands.

Thyroid Cancer

The thyroid is a butterfly-shaped gland located at the base of the front of the neck. It produces thyroid hormone, which controls your metabolism, temperature regulation, and keeps your muscles and organs working properly.

Thyroid cancer is very common, particularly in women. It is now one of the most common cancers found in women. Most forms of thyroid cancer are slow growing and well-treated with surgery and sometimes other therapies.

Thyroid cancers are often found within nodules that are either felt by the patient or their doctor. These nodules are also frequently found incidentally, for example, when the patient has an imaging test not related to the thyroid.

What Are the Symptoms of Thyroid Cancer?

Many patients with thyroid cancer do not report any symptoms, though the following symptoms may be present:

• Difficulty swallowing
• Voice changes
• A lump in the neck

 

What Are the Types of Thyroid Cancer?

There are several types of thyroid cancer including:

Papillary—This is the most common form of thyroid cancer. This type of cancer, which tends to grow slowly, has a good prognosis. It often spreads to neck lymph nodes.

Follicular—This type of thyroid cancer also typically has a good overall prognosis except when significant invasion of other tissues is present.

Medullary—This form of thyroid cancer develops from cells in the thyroid gland that are different from papillary and follicular thyroid cancers. While the prognosis with medullary cancer is not as favorable when compared with those types of thyroid cancers, it is also much less common (between five- and 10-percent of all thyroid cancers). While medullary thyroid carcinoma can be associated with several inherited syndromes, but more often occur in patients without any family history.

Anaplastic—This is the least common type of thyroid cancer,but it is very aggressive, and the prognosis is poor. It presents as a rapidly enlarging neck mass. 

What Are the Treatment Options?

A biopsy with a needle (called fine needle aspiration or FNA) may be performed based on physical exam and ultrasound, or radiographic findings. In some patients, a biopsy may show a cancer, and surgery will be recommended. In others, biopsies may be indeterminate, and a cancer diagnosis is confirmed only after surgical removal. At times, a genetic analysis may be added to the biopsy, to help further clarify the risk of cancer and guide treatment decision-making.

The primary treatment for thyroid cancer is surgery. This surgery involves removing the thyroid gland and sometimes enlarged lymph nodes. Surgical treatment is determined on a case-by-case basis and is determined by the patient’s biopsy and imaging, as well as other factors. Treatment options include:

Papillary—This type of cancer is treated with thyroid surgery and, in selected cases, radioactive iodine.
Follicular—This type of thyroid cancer is treated similarly to papillary carcinoma, with thyroid surgery and, in selected cases, radioactive iodine.
Medullary—Treatment for medullary thyroid cancer is primarily surgical. If the cancer is found to be inherited then family members of the patient may need genetic screening testing.
Anaplastic—This cancer often grows very quickly and requires a medical team comprised of several specialists to determine the best treatment plan.

 

When Should I See a Doctor for a Neck Mass?

See your doctor and/or an ENT (ear, nose, and throat) specialist, or otolaryngologist, if the lump in your neck lasts longer than two to three weeks. This is a persistent neck mass, which means that the lump has not gone away. You should also see a doctor if you are not sure how long you have had the neck mass because your neck mass may mean that you have a serious medical problem.

If you have any of the head and neck symptoms listed above, in addition to the neck mass, you should see your doctor right away. It may not be cancer, but you need to be evaluated. Your doctor will discuss any tests needed for diagnosing your neck mass and your follow-up care.

Neck Mass

A neck mass is an abnormal lump in the neck. Neck lumps or masses can be any size—large enough to see and feel, or they can be very small.

A neck mass may be a sign of an infection, or it may indicate a serious medical condition. It does not necessarily mean you have cancer, but it does mean you may need additional evaluation to receive an accurate diagnosis.

What Are the Symptoms of a Neck Mass?

Common symptoms in patients with a neck mass at higher risk for cancer (see “What Causes a Neck Mass” below) include:

• The mass lasts longer than two to three weeks
• The mass gets larger
• The mass gets smaller but does not completely go           away
• Voice change
• Trouble or pain with swallowing
• Trouble hearing or ear pain on the same side as the       neck mass
• Neck or throat pain
• Unexplained weight loss
• Nasal blockage in one side of the nose
• Breathing difficulty
• Bleeding from nose and oral cavity
• Coughing up blood
• Skin lesion on the face or scalp that is growing or             changing color

Voice Box (Laryngeal) Cancer

Cancer of the voice box, or laryngeal cancer, is not as well known by the general public as some other types of cancer, yet it is not a rare disease.
The American Cancer Society estimates that in 2018 there will be about 13,150 new cases of laryngeal cancer (10,490 new cases in men and 2,660 new cases in women), and about 3,710 deaths from laryngeal cancer (2,970 men and 740 women).1 Even for survivors, the consequences of laryngeal cancer can be devastating with respect to voice, breathing, or swallowing. It is a preventable disease, however, since the primary risk factors for laryngeal cancer are associated with changeable behaviors in lifestyle.

What Are the Symptoms of Laryngeal Cancer?

• Worsening or persistent hoarseness
• Difficulty swallowing
• Persistent sore throat or pain with swallowing
• Difficulty breathing
• Pain in the ear
• Lump in the neck
• Coughing up blood

Anyone with these signs or symptoms should be evaluated by an ENT (ear, nose, and throat) specialist, or otolaryngologist. This is particularly important for people with risk factors for laryngeal cancer.

What Are the Treatment Options?

The best “treatment” is prevention: laryngeal cancer is a preventable disease in most cases, because the main risk factors are associated with lifestyle behaviors that can be modified or changed. The American Cancer Society recommends that those who drink alcoholic beverages should limit the amount of alcohol they consume—one drink per day is considered limited exposure to alcohol. It also recommends avoiding tobacco in any form. Vitamin A and beta-carotene may play a protective role in helping to decrease the risk of developing laryngeal cancer.

That said, the primary treatment options for laryngeal cancer include surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, or a combination of these treatments, the first two being the most commonly recommended treatments. However, these treatments take a toll on the body.

Potential Complications of Non-treatment

You and your doctor can discuss the best treatment option(s), but potential complications of not treating your condition include:

• Persistent sore throat
• Complete loss of voice
• Disfigurement in the neck area
• Bloody cough or bleeding from the mouth
• Complete inability to swallow or aspiration of food and liquid into lungs leading to pneumonia
• Difficulty breathing or even complete airway blockage, possibly requiring a tracheostomy (a special tube through the neck into the trachea or windpipe to bypass the blocked airway)

Thyroid Cancer

The thyroid is a butterfly-shaped gland located at the base of the front of the neck. It produces thyroid hormone, which controls your metabolism, temperature regulation, and keeps your muscles and organs working properly.

Thyroid cancer is very common, particularly in women. It is now one of the most common cancers found in women. Most forms of thyroid cancer are slow growing and well-treated with surgery and sometimes other therapies.

Thyroid cancers are often found within nodules that are either felt by the patient or their doctor. These nodules are also frequently found incidentally, for example, when the patient has an imaging test not related to the thyroid.

What Are the Symptoms of Thyroid Cancer?

Many patients with thyroid cancer do not report any symptoms, though the following symptoms may be present:

• Difficulty swallowing
• Voice changes
• A lump in the neck

What Are the Types of Thyroid Cancer?

There are several types of thyroid cancer including:

Papillary—This is the most common form of thyroid cancer. This type of cancer, which tends to grow slowly, has a good prognosis. It often spreads to neck lymph nodes.

Follicular—This type of thyroid cancer also typically has a good overall prognosis except when significant invasion of other tissues is present.

Medullary—This form of thyroid cancer develops from cells in the thyroid gland that are different from papillary and follicular thyroid cancers. While the prognosis with medullary cancer is not as favorable when compared with those types of thyroid cancers, it is also much less common (between five- and 10-percent of all thyroid cancers). While medullary thyroid carcinoma can be associated with several inherited syndromes, but more often occur in patients without any family history.

Anaplastic—This is the least common type of thyroid cancer,but it is very aggressive, and the prognosis is poor. It presents as a rapidly enlarging neck mass. 

When Should I See a Doctor for a Neck Mass?

See your doctor and/or an ENT (ear, nose, and throat) specialist, or otolaryngologist, if the lump in your neck lasts longer than two to three weeks. This is a persistent neck mass, which means that the lump has not gone away. You should also see a doctor if you are not sure how long you have had the neck mass because your neck mass may mean that you have a serious medical problem.

If you have any of the head and neck symptoms listed above, in addition to the neck mass, you should see your doctor right away. It may not be cancer, but you need to be evaluated. Your doctor will discuss any tests needed for diagnosing your neck mass and your follow-up care.

 

What Are the Treatment Options?

A biopsy with a needle (called fine needle aspiration or FNA) may be performed based on physical exam and ultrasound, or radiographic findings. In some patients, a biopsy may show a cancer, and surgery will be recommended. In others, biopsies may be indeterminate, and a cancer diagnosis is confirmed only after surgical removal. At times, a genetic analysis may be added to the biopsy, to help further clarify the risk of cancer and guide treatment decision-making.

The primary treatment for thyroid cancer is surgery. This surgery involves removing the thyroid gland and sometimes enlarged lymph nodes. Surgical treatment is determined on a case-by-case basis and is determined by the patient’s biopsy and imaging, as well as other factors. Treatment options include:

Papillary—This type of cancer is treated with thyroid surgery and, in selected cases, radioactive iodine.
Follicular—This type of thyroid cancer is treated similarly to papillary carcinoma, with thyroid surgery and, in selected cases, radioactive iodine.
Medullary—Treatment for medullary thyroid cancer is primarily surgical. If the cancer is found to be inherited then family members of the patient may need genetic screening testing.
Anaplastic—This cancer often grows very quickly and requires a medical team comprised of several specialists to determine the best treatment plan.

 

 

Neck Mass

A neck mass is an abnormal lump in the neck. Neck lumps or masses can be any size—large enough to see and feel, or they can be very small.

A neck mass may be a sign of an infection, or it may indicate a serious medical condition. It does not necessarily mean you have cancer, but it does mean you may need additional evaluation to receive an accurate diagnosis.

What Are the Symptoms of a Neck Mass?

Common symptoms in patients with a neck mass at higher risk for cancer (see “What Causes a Neck Mass” below) include:

• The mass lasts longer than two to three weeks
• The mass gets larger
• The mass gets smaller but does not completely go away
• Voice change
• Trouble or pain with swallowing
• Trouble hearing or ear pain on the same side as the neck mass
• Neck or throat pain
• Unexplained weight loss
• Nasal blockage in one side of the nose
• Breathing difficulty
• Bleeding from nose and oral cavity
• Coughing up blood
• Skin lesion on the face or scalp that is growing or             changing color

Voice Box (Laryngeal) Cancer

Cancer of the voice box, or laryngeal cancer, is not as well known by the general public as some other types of cancer, yet it is not a rare disease.
The American Cancer Society estimates that in 2018 there will be about 13,150 new cases of laryngeal cancer (10,490 new cases in men and 2,660 new cases in women), and about 3,710 deaths from laryngeal cancer (2,970 men and 740 women).1 Even for survivors, the consequences of laryngeal cancer can be devastating with respect to voice, breathing, or swallowing. It is a preventable disease, however, since the primary risk factors for laryngeal cancer are associated with changeable behaviors in lifestyle.

What Are the Symptoms of Laryngeal Cancer?

• Worsening or persistent hoarseness
• Difficulty swallowing
• Persistent sore throat or pain with swallowing
• Difficulty breathing
• Pain in the ear
• Lump in the neck
• Coughing up blood

Anyone with these signs or symptoms should be evaluated by an ENT (ear, nose, and throat) specialist, or otolaryngologist. This is particularly important for people with risk factors for laryngeal cancer.

What Are the Treatment Options?

The best “treatment” is prevention: laryngeal cancer is a preventable disease in most cases, because the main risk factors are associated with lifestyle behaviors that can be modified or changed. The American Cancer Society recommends that those who drink alcoholic beverages should limit the amount of alcohol they consume—one drink per day is considered limited exposure to alcohol. It also recommends avoiding tobacco in any form. Vitamin A and beta-carotene may play a protective role in helping to decrease the risk of developing laryngeal cancer.
That said, the primary treatment options for laryngeal cancer include surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, or a combination of these treatments, the first two being the most commonly recommended treatments. However, these treatments take a toll on the body.
Potential Complications of Non-treatment

You and your doctor can discuss the best treatment option(s), but potential complications of not treating your condition include:

• Persistent sore throat
• Complete loss of voice
• Disfigurement in the neck area
• Bloody cough or bleeding from the mouth
• Complete inability to swallow or aspiration of food and liquid into lungs leading to pneumonia
• Difficulty breathing or even complete airway blockage, possibly requiring a tracheostomy (a special tube through the neck into the trachea or windpipe to bypass the blocked airway)

 

 

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Saginaw - Main Office

2551 McLeod Drive South
Saginaw, MI 48604
Phone: (989) 799-8620
Fax: (989) 799-2664

Pigeon Office

Scheurer Prof. Building
135 N. Caseville Rd.
Pigeon, MI 48755
Phone: (989) 453-5226
Fax: (989) 453-8819

Tawas Office

St. Joseph Specialty Clinic
295 Maple St. Suite 201
PO Box 659
Tawas City, MI 48764
Phone: (989) 362-0188
Fax: (989) 362-7171

Cass City Office

4675 Hill Street
Cass City, MI 48726
Phone: (989) 912-6112
Fax: (989) 453-3819

Marlette Office

Marlette Regional Hospital
2750 Main Street, Suites 7 & 8
Marlette, MI 48453
Phone: (989) 635-4344‬‬‬
Fax: (877) 455-9031

Sandusky Office

McKenzie Health Plaza
115 Delaware Street
Sandusky, MI 48471
Phone: (810) 648-6115
Fax: (810) 648-2334‬