Our multidisciplinary care teams include endocronologists, oncology surgeons, nuclear medicine physicians, medical and radiation oncologists, radiologists, pathologists, pharmacists and advanced practice nurses with expertise in thyroid cancers. As specialists, our teams develop groundbreaking surgeries, medical treatments and surveillance algorithms that produce better outcomes and are adopted by other leading cancer centers.
The benefits of our multidisciplinary and highly experienced teams include:
- Access to doctors and surgeons who rank among the top cancer experts in the world.
- Monthly review of patient cases by the full team of experts.
- Coordinated scheduling for appointments among various specialties.
- Access to a nurse navigator to assist you throughout the treatment process.
- Access to support programs and groups for you and your caregivers.
- Availability of new treatment options within our clinical trials program.
If a patient exhibits symptoms of thyroid cancer, a physician may conduct one or more of the following procedures:
Physical exam: a doctor will feel the thyroid for lumps and nodules. The neck and lymph nodes will also be examined for growth and swelling.
Blood test: abnormal hormone levels in the blood can indicate that the thyroid is not functioning properly.
Thyroid scan: the patient swallows a small amount of radioactive substance that travels through the blood stream and is absorbed by the thyroid. A scan shows how the thyroid tissues and nodules absorb the substance.
Ultrasound: sound waves are used to create pictures of the thyroid and nodules that may be too small to be felt by a doctor.
Biopsy: a small sample of tissue is examined with a microscope to check for cancerous cells. This is the only sure way to detect thyroid cancer.
Watch the video for an explanation on thyroid cancer diagnosis and treatment by Winship specialist Taofeek Owonikoko, MD, PhD.
One or more of the following types of treatment will be used.
Surgery: physicians may remove part of or the entire thyroid and the nearby lymph nodes and affected tissue. Chemotherapy and radiation may be used before or after surgery if you have the malignant form of thyroid cancer called anaplastic thyroid cancer.
Radioiodine therapy: this comes in pill form taken by mouth to identify the location of thyroid cancer as well as to treat the cancer.
Close Surveillance and thyroid hormone replacement therapy: Winship physicians employ a multidisciplinary approach to carefully determine the level of risk posed by your cancer after you have completed the needed surgery. When indicated, they will closely monitor your condition using a combination of physical examination, blood tests and imaging with ultrasound.
Radiation: high energy x-rays or other types of radiation are used to kill cancer cells. Physicians may use radiation therapy by itself to treat thyroid cancer or to shrink tumors before surgery. Learn more about radiation therapy treatments and services.
Targeted therapies: Winship’s most promising research in treating thyroid cancer is in personalized medicine and targeted therapies. In personalized medicine, researchers identify unique characteristics of tumors that make them vulnerable to known drugs so therapy can be tailored to an individual’s cancer. In targeted therapies, investigators look for new drugs that more selectively target cancer cells with fewer side effects. Winship investigators are conducting clinical studies using targeted therapies in various types of thyroid cancer including papillary, follicular and medullary subtypes of thyroid cancer.
Chemotherapy: Chemotherapy drugs kill or slow the growth of cancer cells. Chemotherapy may be used in combination with surgery or radiation to maximize the treatment.
In addition to delivering the highest quality medical care, we recognize the importance of the psychological and emotional aspects of living with a cancer diagnosis and of dealing with treatment. Our supportive oncology team addresses these issues in a timely manner with additional support from counselors, nurse navigators, dietitians and social service professionals.
Your Treatment Team
- Physician Diagnosticians
- Nurse Navigators
- Adv Practice
- Support Services
- Clinical Trials
- Dr. Owonikoko's clinical specialties include lung cancer, thyroid cancer and other cancers of the aerodigestive tract.
- Professor, Department of Hematology and Medical Oncology, Emory University School of Medicine; Co-Chair, Clinical and Translational Review Committee, Winship Cancer Institute of Emory University
- (404) 778-1900
- A board certified surgeon and surgical oncologist, Dr. Saunders specializes in cancers of the endocrine organs including thyroid, parathyroid, pancreas and adrenal glands.
- Assistant Professor, Division of General and GI Surgery, Department of Surgery, Emory University School of Medicine
- (404) 778-3712