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Endocrine and Thyroid Cancer Care

Experts at UPMC CancerCenter have vast experience in diagnosing, treating, and managing every type of endocrine disease.

As our patient, you can feel certain that you're receiving care from a team dedicated to excellence every step of the way.

About the Endocrine System

The endocrine system is a collection of glands in several areas of the body. The glands secrete hormones directly into the circulatory system for delivery to certain organs.

Hormones regulate functions like:

  • Digestion
  • Sleep
  • Growth
  • Reproduction

Cancer can affect any of the body’s tissues, including the endocrine glands.

The thyroid is a butterfly-shaped endocrine gland on the front of the throat, with two lobes connected by an isthmus.

Thyroid hormones help regulate:

  • Heart rate
  • Blood pressure
  • Weight
  • Temperature

Thyroid cancer is the most common type of endocrine cancer, diagnosed in about 64,000 people each year. In most cases, it's a very treatable form of cancer.

Endocrine cancer can also affect the pancreas, which is an organ in the belly.

Cells in the pancreas have two jobs:

  • Exocrine cells aid digestion through the secretion of enzymes.
  • Endocrine cells control blood sugar levels through the release of hormones.

Cancer can affect both types of cells in the pancreas. Cancers that come from the endocrine cells are neuroendocrine tumors.

Learn more about endocrine pancreatic cancer care at UPMC CancerCenter.

Surgical oncologists at our Endocrine and Thyroid Cancer Treatment Program treat cancer involving the exocrine cell.

What Is Endocrine Cancer?

Cancer is the result of abnormal cell growth.

When the cells of an endocrine gland begin to change and grow out of control, tumors — both benign and malignant — can form.

Because endocrine tumors come from cells that make hormones, the tumors themselves can begin to make hormones. This upsets the delicate hormonal balance that keeps the body working properly.

Both benign and malignant tumors can be functioning or non-functioning.

  • Functioning tumors are tumors that begin making hormones on their own.
  • Non-functioning tumors are those that do not produce hormones.

Neuroendocrine tumors are endocrine tumors that also affect the nervous system.

The neuroendocrine system includes cells that have properties of both endocrine cells and nerve cells.

These cells exist in organs like the lungs and in the gastrointestinal tract. They perform many functions specific to the organ or structure in which they exist.

What Is Thyroid Cancer?

The thyroid gland absorbs iodine from the bloodstream to produce hormones that help regulate a person’s metabolism.

Some people have an underactive thyroid gland, leading to a condition called hypothyroidism. Others have an overactive thyroid, which leads to hyperthyroidism.

Thyroid cancer differs from either of these conditions.

Thyroid cancer is the result of cells that change and grow out of control. It's the most common type of endocrine cancer, and the rate of some types of thyroid cancer is on the rise.

Tumors can grow on the thyroid and disrupt its functioning. The cancerous cells can also spread beyond the thyroid gland.

Women are more likely to have thyroid cancer than men.

Why Choose UPMC for Endocrine and Thyroid Cancer Care?

At UPMC CancerCenter, you'll receive personal care in a timely fashion.

We offer:

  • Advanced testing and imaging methods.
  • Innovative surgical techniques for endocrine and thyroid cancer.
  • A multidisciplinary team specializing in coordinated cancer care.

And, because of our partnership with the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute (UPCI), you have access to leading-edge endocrine cancer treatments through clinical trials.

UPCI is the only National Cancer Institute-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center in western Pennsylvania. This is one reason we attract leaders in cancer research and clinical practice.

If you would like to know more about endocrine and thyroid cancer care at UPMC CancerCenter, call us at 412-647-2811. Or, complete an endocrine and thyroid cancer contact form.

types of thyroid cancer

Types of Endocrine Cancer

Endocrine cancers occur in the glands of the body that produce hormones. These include the thyroid, parathyroid, pituitary, and adrenal glands.

Read about the types of endocrine cancer.
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Endocrine and Thyroid Cancer Treatment Program

Our progam's experts provide diagnosis and treatment services for endocrine cancer and thyroid cancer.

Learn more about our treatment program.
medical oncology callout

Treatments for Endocrine and Thyroid Cancer

We offer many treatments for endocrine and thyroid cancers including medical oncology options, radiation, and surgery.

Read more about cancer treatment options.