Signs and symptoms of thyroid cancer recurrence may include:
- Neck swelling or a lump in the neck that may grow rapidly.
- Neck pain that starts in the front of the neck and sometimes extends to the ears.
- Trouble breathing or swallowing.
- Voice changes or hoarseness.
- Continuous cough not related to a cold.
If the thyroglobulin level begins to rise, it might be a sign the cancer is coming back , and further testing will be done. This usually includes a radioactive iodine scan, and may include PET scans and other imaging test
Papillary thyroid carcinoma (PTC) has excellent survival, however, recurrence remains a major concern with up to 20% of patients developing recurrent disease at some point during their lifetime (1). The average time to recurrence has been reported in the literature anywhere from 6 months to decades later (2–4
Recurrent papillary thyroid carcinoma (PTC) beyond the first two decades of definitive treatment (i.e. total thyroidectomy and radioactive iodine ablation) is a rare occurrence
Recurrent thyroid cancer typically occurs in the neck area, such as the lymph nodes . This is called a regional recurrence. Some patients experience distant metastases, or cancer that has spread to other areas of the body. Distant thyroid cancer recurrence typically develops in the bones and lung
Most people do very well after treatment, but follow-up care is very important since most thyroid cancers grow slowly and can recur even 10 to 20 years after initial treatment
Most patients with recurrent WDTC undergo salvage treatment with further surgery and/or iodine 131 therapy. However, a small number of patients will die as a result of uncontrolled locoregional or distant disease. The mortality of patients with a recurrence has been reported as high as 38% to 69% .
To help prevent your papillary thyroid carcinoma from recurring and to catch it early in case it does, your doctor may recommend routine follow-up appointments after your surgery . This generally involves a visit with your endocrinologist or surgeon every 6 months for the first 2 years and then annually thereafter.