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Endocrine glands are responsible for the secretion of hormones and are critical to your bodily function. At Dignity Health – Cancer Institute at St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center, we combine a multidisciplinary approach with the latest techniques for diagnosis and treatment of endocrine diseases to ensure you receive the best possible care.

Endocrine At A Glance



Endocrine cancer can be difficult to detect. Some examples of symptoms are:

  • Thyroid cancer may present with neck swelling, difficulty swallowing, or voice changes. However, many times thyroid cancer is found incidentally during scans such as during ultrasound of the carotid artery.
  • Parathyroid disease may present on routine lab work as an elevated calcium level. Patients may have a history of kidney stones or osteoporosis and may feel tired, fatigued, forgetful, complain of abdominal pain or joint aches and pain. Parathyroid cancer is an extremely rare cause of this disorder.
  • Adrenal nodules may be found on scans of the chest or abdomen. These nodules may be responsible for increased hormone production which can present in a variety of ways including elevated blood pressure, anxiety, changes in weight, changes in appearance, and/or fatigue. While adrenal nodules are more common adrenal cancer is extremely rare.
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Steps to Diagnosis

If your physician suspects an endocrine cancer or disorder, you may be referred to an endocrinologist. This specialist may perform a biopsy, hormone or imaging tests to learn more.

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Common Concerns

Hormones play an important role in keeping your body functioning and balanced, so both benign and cancerous tumors must be treated to avoid more serious problems.

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The specific cause of endocrine cancer is not yet known. However, some endocrine cancers and disorders may be genetic. Living a healthy, active lifestyle, combined with a nutritious diet and exercise, can help keep your health and body stable. Be sure to address any hormone imbalances as soon as possible.


We have a close knit team of clinicians and support staff who address all aspects of endocrine cancer. Our team is ready to deliver the right specialized treatment, including:


For most endocrine cancers, the most common treatment is surgery. We have fellowship trained surgeons with considerable experience in taking care of thyroid cancer, parathyroid disease, and adrenal disease. We perform many of the surgical therapies with minimally invasive techniques using the latest robotic technology. In fact, we’re offering leading edge treatments not found anywhere else in the area.

Radiation Therapy

High-powered energy beams, such as X-rays, are often used to kill cancer cells directly. Radioactive Iodine Treatment is another option, used to destroy cancer cells  with little or no damage to other tissue in the body.

Targeted Therapy

Therapy focused on blocking the growth and spread of cancer cells by targeting the specific genes, proteins, or tissue affected by cancer.

Hormone Therapy

Therapy designed to block the effects of hormones that are stimulating cancer cell growth.

Photo Credit: Nick Merrick

Our Approach

We have a unique point of view that focuses on providing the best possible approach for you. We  start by considering your genetic makeup and analyzing your specific biological systems and then take our care even further.

Our interdisciplinary team considers the right care plan from multiple perspectives, often consulting with other experts to gather up-to-the-moment insight on treatment options.  

Then, your course of treatment will be designed to suit your exact medical needs, using precision medicine to do the most good while remaining minimally invasive. That means we’re focused not just on eradicating the disease, but on preserving your quality of life before, during, and after your treatment.

We are here to help you heal as a whole person. Wherever your care path leads, you can be sure our entire team will be there with you every step of the way.

“What excites me the most about our approach is having  a closely knit team of colleagues that address all aspects of cancer using a multidisciplinary approach, committed to minimally invasive treatment. We have a very unique perspective.”

William Cance, MD
Surgical Oncology/Endocrine Surgery

Please contact us for more information about other cancers and conditions we treat including:

  • Thyroid
  • Adrenal
  • Neuroendocrine
  • Parathyroid
  • Pancreas
  • Pituitary

Continuing Support

Wherever your individual care plan takes you, we’ll work closely with you to understand your preferences, and your needs – and be sure any additional support is ready when you need it, including:

  • Dietary or nutrition advisors, providing special focus and attention for chemo patients
  • Genetic counselors to help you understand your risk factors
  • Social workers dedicated to easing your emotional burdens and helping with community benefits
  • Financial counselors to help you understand the financial aspect and work with you to reduce the burden when possible
  • Specialty pharmacy liaisons who help authorize your prescriptions and educate you on managing side effects and taking your medicine properly
  • Nurse navigators to help guide you throughout the cancer institute, every step of the way
  • Physical and rehabilitation therapists who provide integrated care alongside your primary care plan

Endocrine Cancer Specialists

Kathryn Coan, MD

Phoenix, AZ