The thyroid gland dysfunction and other problems related to this gland can cause various unpleasant symptoms. The most severe is what’s linked to thyroid cancer.
It can occur at any stage of life, and to make a successful recovery or try avoiding it is worth to shed some more light on it.
Important and interesting facts about thyroid cancer:
- Thyroid cancer is three times more common in women than in men
- Usually, it occurs between 25-65 years of age
- Caucasians have a higher risk than African Americans for the development of this kind of cancer. Each year in the U.S. about 20,000 people develop thyroid gland cancer
- There are four major thyroid cancer types: “papillary, follicular, medullary, and anaplastic.” Papillary thyroid cancer is the most common type (about 80% of the cases), 2nd being follicular thyroid cancer (10%) and medullary thyroid cancer as 3rd (5%)
The primary function of the thyroid gland is the production of hormones of the same name that are used for normal metabolism regulation in the body. The cause of thyroid cancer is unknown, but there are different risk factors indicated that might lead to it in different cases. One of them is exposure to radiation. That’s why the National Cancer Institute suggests anyone who has received radiation to the head or neck to go to examination every 1-2 years.
Other factors include family history and specific hereditary syndromes. DNA mutations are also responsible for the possible cancer formation and the main reason for that can be toxic substances in the environment. You shouldn’t mix thyroid cancer with goiter, which is the enlargement of the same gland but is a warning sign that the body needs more iodine.
Signs of thyroid cancer
- a lump or thyroid nodule (can feel in the neck)
- trouble swallowing
- throat or neck pain
- a cough and vocal changes
It is important to know that there might be no symptoms in the early stage of cancer. A lot of people first feel thyroid nodules (abnormal growth – cystic, colloid (jelly-like) or a combination of both) and only then leads to breathing difficulty, hoarseness, pain in the throat and neck, etc. It is worth remembering that about 99% of nodules in the thyroid gland are good. The only safe way to know if it is cancer is to take a sample (tissue) from a place with a needle or biopsy, CEA blood test, physical exam, X-rays, CT scans, PET scans, ultrasounds, and MRIs.
The first step could be to do a self-check: swallow while at the same time tipping the head back. Examined should be the area above the collarbones. If there are any lumps or bulges, it is better to consult a doctor. He or she will find an answer.
The most common treatment for thyroid cancer is surgery if it hasn’t spread to other areas (metastasis) as well as radioactive iodine treatment. Everyone needs to understand the disease, the treatment options, and the possible ways how to avoid this severe thyroid gland problem that usually might start from smaller problems. Yet it is little to do to prevent it apart from avoiding excessive exposure to radiation.
Still, everyone should track if there are any thyroid abnormalities or feel run down, tired, with “brain fog,” unexpected weight gain or weight loss, anxiety, and other problems. Recognizing and treating these problems is critical to prevent more severe long-term health problems.
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 Definition of Thyroid Cancer. Accessed from: http://www.medicinenet.com/script/main/art.asp?articlekey=8693rel=” nofollow”
 Thyroid Cancer Symptoms and Warning Signs. Accessed from: http://www.medicinenet.com/script/main/art.asp?articlekey=53303rel=” nofollow”
 Thyroid cancer. Accessed from: http://www.medicinenet.com/thyroid_cancer/article.htmrel=” nofollow”