Thyroid Cancer


Thyroid Cancer Care 

When you have cancer, you need a team of strong support. A diagnosis of thyroid cancer can feel overwhelming, but you are not alone. We are here for you every step of the way through your journey of diagnosis and treatment.

Cancer treatments have progressed significantly in recent years and survivor rates have increased as a result.

Coordinated Team Approach 

We provide coordinated care that includes the latest treatments in surgery, radiation therapy, and chemotherapy. Each patient is an important and active part of his or her care team. Our goal is for patients to be involved in all decisions related to care and to always know the next step.

We want to help you feel healthy again. In addition to the critical medical treatments you will receive, we offer health and wellness services that treat the whole body and mind, promoting physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual healing. 

On this page, learn more about thyroid cancer, our services, and what you can expect during your treatment journey. If you have questions or concerns, please contact us at 231-392-8400 or

What is Thyroid Cancer?

The thyroid is a gland at the base of the throat. It is shaped like a butterfly, with a right lobe and a left lobe. The thyroid makes hormones that help regulate critical body functions like heart rate, blood pressure, body temperature, and weight.

There are four types of thyroid cancer:

  • Papillary – the most common type
  • Follicular
  • Medullary
  • Anaplastic thyroid cancer 

Papillary, follicular, and medullary thyroid cancers can usually be cured. Anaplastic thyroid cancer is difficult to cure with current treatment. 

Thyroid cancer is the most rapidly increasing cancer in the U.S. This is likely, in part, a result of increased detection. 

Unlike many other cancers where risk increases with age, 70 percent of thyroid cancers are diagnosed in people under 60 years of age.

Risk Factors

  • Being female
  • History of having a goiter (enlarged thyroid) or thyroid nodules
  • A family history of thyroid cancer
  • A history of radiation exposure early in life
  • Certain inherited genetic conditions like an RET gene mutation. 

Learn More about Thyroid Cancer Treatment

What to Expect


Cancer treatment begins with a diagnosis. Through testing, your care team will determine your type of cancer. These test results will help us develop an individualized treatment plan for you.

We understand that this phase can be very difficult as you are waiting for answers. Our goal is to move you through the diagnostic process as quickly as possible in order to minimize the emotional strain.

Your Treatment Plan

We offer a coordinated approach to care that varies based on your specific needs. 

Your case may be discussed at our Head and Neck Tumor Board meetings that convene every other Friday with the goal of providing a personalized and coordinated plan for each person discussed at this meeting. This is a multidisciplinary team of physicians and support staff that discusses patients’ care plans and makes recommendations care. 

After testing and consultations are complete, your surgeon will explain to you the type, stage, and characteristics of the cancer and discuss treatment. You may be referred to a medical oncologist and or radiation oncologist depending on your needs and care plan. 

Treatment for your cancer will depend upon the type, location, and stage of the cancer. Other factors that impact treatment decisions include your age and other health conditions. 

Our physicians provide the latest in treatments. When more complex treatments are necessary, we work closely with specialists across the state and nation.

Your treatment plan may include a combination of any one of the following approaches: surgery, radiation therapy (including radioactive iodine therapy), thyroid hormone therapy, and chemotherapy for advanced or anaplastic cancers. 

We also recommend that you meet with an endocrinologist as part of your care because of the many hormones made by the thyroid that help regulate the body’s critical functions.

Health and Wellness at the Cowell Family Cancer Center

We believe that everything matters in cancer treatment.

The Health and Wellness Suite at the Cowell Family Cancer Center in Traverse City offers space for physical, emotional and spiritual healing through integrative therapies, meditation, exercise, nutrition and the arts. 

Services are available for patients, staff, family members, caregivers and the community.

Services include:

Meet our Care Team

Our team of specialists provides screening, diagnosis, and treatment for thyroid cancer. Your care team may include:

EndocrinologistEndocrinologists are specially trained physicians who diagnose diseases related to the glands.

General SurgeonsSurgeons who are knowledgeable in anatomy, physiology, metabolism, immunology, nutrition, pathology, wound healing, shock and resuscitation, intensive care, and cancer.

ENT/OtolaryngologyA physician who specializes in diagnosing and treating diseases of the head and neck, especially those involving the ears, nose, and throat (ENT). Also called an ENT, ENT doctor, or ENT physician.

Radiation OncologistsPhysicians with an expertise in the use of radiation therapy for treating cancer.

Medical OncologistsPhysicians who specialize in using medical methods to treat cancer. Your medical oncologist may diagnose the cancer, choose the appropriate medical treatment method, provide follow-up care, and coordinate palliative care to help ease symptoms.

The Cowell Family Cancer Center Support Team

Genetics Consultation

Thyroid cancer can be associated with certain hereditary gene changes that may increase the risk of developing cancer. These gene changes can be passed on to family members. 

Depending on your family history and personal risk factors, you may be referred to our cancer genetics clinic for a consultation.

During this meeting, you will talk to our nurse practitioner who is specially trained in cancer genetics to discuss your family’s risk and genetic testing options available. If certain criteria are met, testing may be recommended and it is offered through our clinic.

Support and Guidance

Our care coordination team is here to support you and includes a nurse and nurse practitioner who will ensure that your next steps are planned and communicated. 

Our compassionate team also includes a dietitian, a social worker, palliative/supportive care providers, and financial navigators to ensure that your individual needs are addressed. 

For more information regarding Cowell Family Cancer Center services or to be transferred to a regional network facility, call 231-392-8400 and speak with one of our resource specialists. 

Availability of support services varies according to the specific regional cancer network location.

Treatment Locations

Cowell Family Cancer Center

You can find treatment and resources for thyroid cancer at our Cowell Family Cancer Center on the Munson Medical Center campus in Traverse City. This state-of-the-art cancer center opened in 2016 and provides most cancer services including diagnosis, treatment, integrative therapies, follow-up, and supportive care.

Medical oncology follow up visits and chemotherapy may be available to you close to home through our regional cancer network.

Clinical Trials for Thyroid Cancer

Clinical trials are studies that involve people and are the final research step in a long process that begins with lab research. You may want to consider participating in a clinical trial.

Depending on the clinical trial, part of your care may need to occur in Traverse City.

We have participated in cancer clinical trials for more than 30 years through the National Cancer Institute. This program offers our patients the chance to participate in large, national research trials while remaining at home in northern Michigan.

To learn more about clinical trials for thyroid cancer, visit or talk to your doctor.