Thyroid Lymphoma

Overview

Lymphoma is a cancer of the white blood cells that can be found in the blood stream or in lymph nodes.  Primary thyroid lymphomas are rare.  When they occur, they are typically B cell lymphomas which are very responsive to chemotherapy with a good prognosis.

Signs and Symptoms

Thyroid lymphoma typically progress rapidly creating a large mass in the thyroid which often causes compressive symptoms (difficult breathing, difficulty swallowing or voice changes).  It is not unusual for this type of cancer to involve the surrounding structures such as the trachea or esophagus.

Diagnosis

The diagnosis of a primary thyroid lymphoma is based on a tissue biopsy.  A fine needle biopsy is generally insufficient to achieve the diagnosis.  Most patients will require either a core needle biopsy or a surgical incisional biopsy to make the diagnosis.

Treatment

The mainstay of treatment for lymphoma is systemic chemotherapy.  Complete remission after treatment with chemotherapy is not uncommon.