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Overview of the thyroid cancer: Symptoms, causes and treatment

  • Posted on- Jun 09, 2015
  • 2261 Views

Thyroid cancer is associated with the thyroid gland, which is located at the bottom of your neck. Your thyroid produces hormones that regulate different body functions. Thyroid cancer occurs when cells of the thyroid gland contain cancer. Today, doctors believe they are able to detect more thyroid cancer cases because of the new technology that is allowing them to find small thyroid cancers which was not the case previously.

Symptoms of the thyroid cancer
Unfortunately, as with other forms of cancer, thyroid cancer too doesn’t show any early signs of development. It is only when the cancer is at the latter stage, the symptoms show up:

  • Feeling of a lump through the skin on your neck
  • change in the voice, especially increasing hoarseness
  • Swallowing becomes difficult
  • Persistent pain in neck and throat
  • Inflamed lymph nodes in your neck

What causes thyroid cancer?
The reasons for thyroid cancer are unclear. In thyroid cancer, the cells undergo mutations which allow them to multiply. The cells lose the ability to die and form a tumor. The abnormal cells can spread through the surrounding tissues.

Types of thyroid cancer
  • Papillary thyroid cancer: It is most common form of thyroid cancer which arises from follicular cells that is responsible for producing and storing thyroid hormones. Papillary thyroid cancer is found mostly in people of the age group 30-50 years.
  • Follicular thyroid cancer: It is another form of cancer arising from follicular cells but affects people over 50 years of age. Hurthle cell cancer is an extreme form of follicular thyroid cancer.
  • Medullary thyroid cancer: Medullary thyroid cancer affects calcitonin producing thyroid hormones. Increased amount of calcitonin in the blood can identify medullary thyroid cancer at a very early stage. Though uncommon, some genetic syndromes are linked to medullary thyroid cancer.
  • Anaplastic thyroid cancer: Anaplastic thyroid cancer is an uncommon but a growing cancer that is difficult to diagnose and treat. It affects older people of 60 years and above.
  • Thyroid lymphoma: It is also an uncommon form of thyroid cancer that commences in the immune system cells in the thyroid and develops quickly. It hampers older people.

Treatment for the thyroid cancer
The treatment options depend on the stage of the cancer, overall health and your preferences. Some of the options include:
  • Surgery: Most people opt for this option wherein the thyroid gland is surgically removed. Removing a portion of the thyroid, all of the thyroid or removing lymph nodes in the neck are some of the common surgeries performed. As with any surgery, these surgeries too carry risk of bleeding and infection.
  • Thyroid hormone therapy: Your endocrinologist will prescribe thyroid hormone medication like Levothyroxine (for life) that will supply the missing hormone your thyroid would generally produce. 
  • Radioactive iodine treatment: It uses large doses of radioactive iodine to destroy any remaining healthy thyroid tissue after a surgery. It is also beneficial in treating recurring thyroid cancer.
  • Chemotherapy: It is a kind of drug treatment that utilizes chemicals to kill cancer cells. The chemicals travel throughout your body via veins, destroying rapidly growing cancer cells.
  • Targeted drug therapy: It uses specific medications that attack susceptibilities in your cancer cells. Targeted drugs include Cometriq, Nexavar and Caprelsa.

It is suggested to be under the watchful eyes of a qualified endocrinologist to permanently eliminate thyroid cancer. He/she in accordance with an oncologist will take up the matters and free you from the jaws of cancer.

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