MedStar Physician Partners (3)-endocrine-cancer

This cancer occurs in tissues of the endocrine system which consists of your body’s hormone-secreting glands including the thyroid, parathyroid, adrenal, pancreas, and pituitary glands. These glands are located in different areas of the body and produce hormones that regulate many bodily functions. 

Endocrine cancers are the fastest growing cancer in women and affect women three times more often than men. At the time of diagnosis, most women are usually between the ages 40 and 50. Men who develop endocrine cancer are usually diagnosed in later years, between the ages 60 and 70. 

The most common type of endocrine cancer is thyroid cancer. Your thyroid is a small, butterfly-shaped gland at the base of your throat. It has two main sections, a left lobe and a right lobe. The middle of the thyroid gland, where the lobes meet, is called the isthmus. Your thyroid makes the hormone thyroxine which helps control metabolism, blood pressure, heart rate, body temperature, and weight.

Most thyroid cancers are very treatable and usually can be cured with surgery and appropriate therapy.  

Meet Dr. Jennifer Rosen

Endocrine Cancer Symptoms

Early thyroid cancer has no symptoms. Normally, the thyroid gland can’t be felt. As thyroid cancer progresses, the following symptoms may occur:

  • A lump in the throat
  • Cough
  • Hoarseness
  • Pain in the throat and neck
  • Difficulty Swallowing
  • Swollen lymph nodes in the neck

If you have these symptoms, talk to your MedStar Health doctor

Endocrine Cancer Risks

Many risk factors cannot be controlled by patients. Risks include:

  • Gender
  • Age
  • Family History
  • Prior exposure to radiation

Endocrine Cancer Types

Thyroid cancer is the most common type of endocrine cancer treated. The other types endocrine cancer our experts treat are:

  • Parathyroid cancer
  • Adrenal cancer

Parathyroid Cancer

The parathyroid glands are four pea-sized organs found in the neck near the thyroid gland. The parathyroid glands make parathyroid hormone (PTH or parathormone). PTH helps your body use and store calcium and maintain normal blood calcium levels.

Parathyroid Cancer Symptoms

Signs and symptoms of parathyroid cancer include:

  • Weakness
  • Feeling very tired
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Loss of appetite
  • Weight loss for no reason
  • Increased thirst
  • Urinating much more than usual
  • Constipation
  • Trouble thinking clearly

Other signs and symptoms of parathyroid cancer include the following:

  • Abdominal pain
  • Pain in the side or back that doesn't go away
  • Bone pain
  • A broken bone
  • Lump in the neck
  • Change in voice such as hoarseness
  • Trouble or difficulty swallowing 

Other conditions may cause the same signs as Parathyroid cancer. Check with your MedStar Health doctor if you have any of these problems.

Adrenal Cancer

Adrenal cancer involves the adrenal glands which are located above each of your kidneys deep inside your upper abdomen. The adrenal gland has two parts. The outer part, called the cortex which produces hormones, is where most malignant tumors develop. 

Adrenal Cancer Symptoms

  • Fever
  • Noticeable lump in the abdomen
  • Persistent pain (pressure of tumor on organs)
  • Feeling of "fullness" (caused by tumor pressing against the stomoach)
  • Unexplained weight loss

Check with your MedStar Health doctor if you have any of these problems

Adrenal Cancer Risks

  • Age
  • Family history
  • Smoking


Hear from our endocrinologists.
Learn more about endocrine cancer treatments at MedStar Washington Hospital Center.

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