What is thyroid cancer?The thyroid gland (or butterfly gland) is located at the base of your neck. Its purpose is to control metabolism and release various hormones throughout the body. These hormones affect how your body produces heat and consumes energy.
Causes of thyroid cancer:
Inherited genetic traits:Thyroid cancer can be the result of an abnormal gene that you have inherited. This means that if your family or blood-related relatives have experienced thyroid cancer, you may be more at risk. A family history of goiter (enlarged thyroid) can also increase the risk of thyroid cancer.
Low iodine levels:Iodine is the mineral that helps your thyroid gland produce important hormones. If you have an iodine deficiency, you may be more at risk of thyroid cancer. An iodine deficiency can be avoided by eating iodine-rich foods such as:
- Iodised salt
- Seafood such as shrimp, cod and tuna
Radiation exposureIf your head or neck was exposed to high levels of radiation, your risk of thyroid cancer may be increased. Radiation exposure can take a long time to create cancer. For example, exposure to radiation as a child can cause thyroid cancer later on in left.
Symptoms of thyroid cancer:There are several common symptoms associated with thyroid cancer. As mentioned above, it is best to get your symptoms looked at by a professional as soon as possible. This will allow your condition to be diagnosed and treated as soon as possible. Below are some of the most common symptoms of thyroid cancer:
Lumps in the thoat or neck:The most common symptoms of thyroid cancer is a small lump which develops at the base of your neck. This lump will become bigger over time and lead to more issues.
Pain in the throat or neck:You may notice pain in the lower front of your neck. This can be caused by malignant cells that develop into a tumour. These cells will then begin to apply pressure to the rest of your neck, creating discomfort as well as other issues.
Coughing:Thyroid cancer can also cause you to experience a cough that won’t go away. This cough won’t be associated with a cold and will often persist until treatment begins.
Difficulty speaking, swallowing or breathing:As thyroid a tumour develops, it can press against the inside of your neck. This can cause you to have difficulty breathing. This can be accompanied by a hoarse voice, as well as a reduced ability to swallow.
Types of thyroid cancer:
Papillary thyroid cancer:This is the most common form of thyroid cancer. It forms in the follicular cells of the thyroid and grows in small finger-like shapes. Papillary thyroid cancer grows slowly, is more common in women than in men, and usually occurs before age 45.
Follicular thyroid cancer:A rarer form of thyroid cancer that accounts for approximately 15% of cases. Follicular thyroid cancer forms in follicular cells in the thyroid. It is very treatable and is most common in women over 50 years old.
Medullary thyroid cancer:This accounts for about 3% of thyroid cancers, making it very rare. Medullary thyroid cancer develops in C cells of the thyroid. The C cells make a hormone called calcitonin that helps maintain a healthy amount of calcium in your blood.
Anaplastic thyroid cancer:Making up less than 2% of thyroid cancer cases, anaplastic thyroid cancer is the rarest and most aggressive form of thyroid cancer. It is known to quickly spread to other organs.
Thyroid cancer treatments:There are several different available treatments for thyroid cancer. However, the ideal type of treatment may depend on a patients condition, stage/type of cancer, or preferences. Each treatment has a different set of side effects. For these reasons, it is important to thoroughly discuss and consider all options.
SurgeryA surgeon can remove a tumour and surrounding tissue. This will prevent cancer from aggressively spreading. Common forms of thyroid cancer surgery include:
- Lobectomy – Removal of the thyroid gland’s cancerous lobe.
- Thyroidectomy – The removal of the entire thyroid gland.
- Ssubtotal thyroidectomy – Removal of all but a small part of the thyroid gland.