Thyroid Cancer in Kids
Thyroid cancer is very rare in children, but when it does occur, it can be more aggressive than it is in adults, often spreading into nearby tissue such as the lymph nodes. The most common type of thyroid cancer in children is papillary cancer.
Because the cancer can be more aggressive in kids, treatment must be equally aggressive. Surgery to remove the entire gland is followed up with RAI ablation to destroy any cancerous cells that have migrated elsewhere in the body. Afterward, the child is given thyroid hormone replacement, a medication that he will need to take for the rest of his life. And like adults, children who have had thyroid cancer need lifelong monitoring. Routine blood tests, thyroglobulin tests, and whole body scans are done regularly to ensure that the cancer has not returned. Getting your child in the habit of following up on these tests will help instill a lifetime of vigilance. For more information on cancer, refer back to Chapter 11.
Early Testing for Medullary Cancer
Medullary cancer is a specific form of thyroid cancer that is passed on through your genes. Approximately 20 percent of all people who have it carry an abnormal gene they inherited from a parent, but almost all children who have medullary cancer have this abnormal gene. Babies born to a parent who has this gene can be tested at birth with a screening test.
Children who inherit mutations of the gene are best off getting their thyroid glands surgically removed before age eight, according to a study published in the
Unlike most other cancers, having the gene for thyroid cancer does mean your child is destined to get thyroid cancer. That's why surgery is necessary. Having surgery while your child is young ensures that your child won't get medullary thyroid cancer.