metastatic Medullary thyroid cancer

Metastatic Medullary Thyroid Cancer

Metastatic medullary thyroid cancer (MTC) is a rare but aggressive form of thyroid cancer that has spread or metastasized beyond the thyroid gland. It is a type of neuroendocrine tumor derived from C cells and can spread to organs such as the lungs, liver, adrenal glands, bone marrow, and lymph nodes. While these tumors are still considered rare, they have become more common in recent years. It is estimated that there are around 4,000 cases of metastatic MTC in the United States every year.

The cause of MTC is unknown, but it is believed to be inherited. It affects about 4-5% of cancer patients and is more commonly found in male patients. Treatment consists of surgery, chemotherapy, and targeted therapy. Early diagnosis and treatment are key to having a successful outcome.

Symptoms of MTC

Symptoms of MTC can vary from person to person, but the most common symptom is a lump or nodule in the neck area. Other symptoms may include:

  • Swollen neck
  • Pain in the neck, shoulder, or arms
  • Hoarseness or a raspy voice
  • Difficulty swallowing or breathing
  • Coughing up blood
  • Fatigue or weakness
  • Lifting or carrying heavy objects
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Anemia

Diagnosis and Treatment

Diagnosis of MTC is typically done through a physical examination, a medical history and personal risk factors, and laboratory tests and imaging scans. Treatment depends on the stage of the disease and may include surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, or targeted therapy.

Surgery is the most common first line of treatment for MTC. This involves removal of the primary tumor and nearby lymph nodes. Chemotherapy is typically used when the cancer has spread far beyond the primary tumor and into the body. It is used to destroy residual cancer cells and prolong survival.

Radiation therapy is another option for MTC. This type of treatment is used to shrink tumors that cannot be removed with surgery or that have spread to other parts of the body. Targeted therapy is a type of drug treatment that targets specific abnormalities in cells that are driving cancer growth. It has been used successfully in treating MTC.


The outlook for those diagnosed with MTC depends on the stage of the cancer and how well the disease is responding to treatment. Early diagnosis and treatment can result in a better prognosis. Working with a health care team that specializes in MTC can also help improve outcomes.