Cancer is a scary word, and it’s natural to worry about how cancer might affect your thyroid panel tests. However, many cancers don’t interfere with these types of lab work. If you’re diagnosed with a type of cancer and wonder whether it will affect your thyroid panel text, this article is for you.
One of the most common thyroid panels includes a complete blood count (CBC) and a comprehensive metabolic panel. The CBC measures red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets. The comprehensive metabolic panel detects changes in levels of electrolytes like sodium, potassium, calcium, chloride, and others. In addition, it measures blood glucose levels and kidney and liver functions.
When the thyroid panel is ordered, it depends on the reason for testing. For example, a person experiencing headaches might have this test done to determine if an underlying illness affects the metabolism of sodium or calcium. Menopause and stress can also cause changes in levels of electrolytes, so doctors often order these tests to make sure the body isn’t experiencing abnormal levels of acidity.
Cancer doesn’t necessarily affect all parts of the thyroid panel test. For instance, a tumor in the pituitary gland could cause an overproduction of thyroxine-binding globulin and reduce thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) levels. In contrast, many types of cancers don’t affect these labs at all. One of the most common cancers in men, prostate cancer, doesn’t change thyroid panel results.
The main lab that can be affected is the CBC because it measures blood cells and platelets. When you’re experiencing a slow-growing or metastasized cancer, you may have anemia and thrombocytopenia.
However, certain cancers have no impact on these tests; therefore, people with cancer do not need to worry as much.
Thyroid Panel Tests Affected By Cancer
Thyroid Stimulating Hormone (TSH) and Free T4- The thyroid panel is used to measure levels of TSH, a hormone secreted by the pituitary gland located at the base of the brain. When there’s too much or too little TSH, it can affect the health of the thyroid gland. Both low levels and high levels of this hormone are associated with changes in metabolism. In addition, they’re each associated with different types of cancer.
The results for this test remain within a certain range to indicate that your thyroid is functioning well and producing enough hormones to keep you healthy. Any changes outside of the normal range may point to a problem with the thyroid gland or an autoimmune condition.
For example, hypothyroidism can occur when TSH levels are low due to decreased gland function that leads to a sluggish metabolism and weight gain. On the other hand, hyperthyroidism occurs when TSH levels are excessively high; the gland becomes overactive and causes weight loss, heart palpitations, and insomnia.
Free Thyroxine (Free T3) and Free Thyroxine Index (FTI)- These labs look at levels of T3, a hormone produced by the thyroid gland that regulates metabolism. Changes in blood levels of T3 often occur with changes in T4 and TSH. The Free T3 test is used to detect hyperthyroidism, while the FTI test can detect both hyper- and hypothyroidism.
Total T4- This lab is one of the most commonly ordered tests in a thyroid panel. It measures total levels of T4, a hormone that’s produced by the thyroid gland. Like all other hormones, blood levels may be caused by functional changes and inflammation, and disease.
In addition, T4 is converted into T3 when it enters the bloodstream. Since the production of this hormone also depends on iodine and selenium, a decrease in levels could be caused by an increased need for these nutrients to function properly.
Free Triiodothyronine (Free T3)- This test looks at free T3 in your bloodstream. Free levels of this hormone rise when the thyroid is overactive; it will fall, however, when insulin resistance increases or hypothyroidism occurs. Low thyroid function may cause a reduced conversion of T4 into free T3.
Measuring Thyroid Antibodies- It’s not uncommon for some people to develop autoantibodies against the thyroid gland. These antibodies can affect both the pituitary gland and thyroid; they also interfere with the function of these glands. When this occurs, thyroid disease can result.
Your thyroid panel test may be affected if you have cancer, especially if your tumor is near the pituitary gland. Cancer can cause an overproduction of thyroxine-binding globulin (TBG), which will skew results for the T3 and T4 tests in a way that appears as though there are high levels of hormones when they aren’t present or low levels when they’re not absent. If you want to carry out a thyroid panel test, reach out to us at 205-352-9141.