Thyroid cancer 101: Familial Medullary thyroid cancer FMTC and Non-Medullary thyroid cancer. FNMPTC.
- Family members must be aware of thyroid cancers can be familial.
- Medullary thyroid cancer MCT can be screened with a RET oncogene blood test.
- However, papillary thyroid cancer PTC is also a familial disease in 10% of the cases.
- There is no blood test for PTC.
- First degree relatives need thyroid ultrasounds and neck examination for nodules.
- MCT is an uncommon thyroid cancer, but PTC is the most common.
- For details on screening for thyroid cancer call 310-393-8860 or email to [email protected]
- The medullary cancer family cluster is shown below.
Battling Medullary thyroid cancer on three fronts
Shannon Volker was diagnosed in 2015 with medullary thyroid cancer caused by the RET gene mutation and had her thyroid removed.
Since her cancer had not spread to her lymph nodes, her prognosis is good, but the RET gene mutation is hereditary, and therefore has the potential to impact her sons Keyton and Kylenn.
During the teen years is when screening for the RET mutation usually takes place, but Shannon says that a Facebook group she is part of encouraged early testing and intervention.
Tests revealed elevated levels in Keyten, now two-years-old, of the hormone produced by the thyroid, and it was decided as a precaution that his thyroid should be removed. When the pathology results were delivered, two cancerous spots had been detected on his thyroid, but again, since it had not spread outside the thyroid, his prognosis is good.
“Keyten is doing really well now,” said Shannon. “We see our endocrinologist in Sioux Falls every six months.”
One-year-old Kylenn was tested in September, and he also had elevated hormone levels. “We have to go to Mayo in Rochester for tests and consults with doctors in January, and will plan for surgery then,” said Shannon.
The family is waiting on pre-approval from their health insurance. Several bake sale fundraisers have been held to cover travel expenses and other costs.
Since they have both had their thyroid removed, Shannon and Keyten take hormone replacement daily. “Keyten will have blood tests every three months to make sure his medication is where it needs to be.”
With the RET gene mutation, thyroid cancer is not the only cancer they are vulnerable to. “Thankfully, there is only a 50% chance of developing parathyroid cancer and adrenal cancer, whereas there is a 90% chance of developing thyroid cancer due to the gene mutation.”