About 35 percent of individuals who have thyroid cancer experience a recurrence within 40 years of initial treatment, and two thirds of the recurrences occur 10 years after their treatment, according to the Thyroid Community. While a patient may show symptoms of a recurrence, oftentimes a patient may show no outward signs the cancer has returned.
Signs that thyroid cancer may include pain in the neck that may radiate up to the ears, coughing, trouble swallowing, breathing problems and hoarseness when talking.
Abnormal lumps or bumps under the skin can be a trouble sign. Patients may also notice swelling around or in the neck or in the lymph nodes. This occurs because the glands are so close to the skin.
Doctors can test thyroglobulin protein levels in the blood. After treatment, there should be no thyroglobulin present. Doctors may test at three month or 12 month intervals. If they see an increase in this protein, they may do further tests to determine whether the cancer has recurred. this protein is measured after your thyroid surgery to investigate if the cancer has returned.
Because some patients who have a re-emerging cancer do not exhibit signs or symptoms, you should keep up regular doctor's visits so that standard tests can be administered. Your doctor may do a whole body scan to look for cancer cells elsewhere or a PET scan for cells on the thyroid. Doctors can alsoperform other blood tests and x-rays to check for thyroid cancer recurrence.
Reasons for Return
Thyroid cancer can re-emerge if microscopic cancer cells spread beyond the thyroid before initial treatment. It can also recur if some pieces of thyroid tissue weren’t removed during surgery or cancer is in the bones, lungs or lymph nodes.