Thyroid cancer- Types, Symptoms, Diagnosis and Treatment
Thyroid cancer occurs in the cells of the thyroid — a butterfly-shaped gland located at the base of your neck, just below your Adam's apple. Your thyroid produces hormones that regulate your heart rate, blood pressure, body temperature and weight.
Thyroid cancer might not cause any symptoms at first. But as it grows, it can cause pain and swelling in your neck.
Several types of thyroid cancer exist. Some grow very slowly and others can be very aggressive. Most cases of thyroid cancer can be cured with treatment.
Thyroid cancer rates seem to be increasing. Some doctors think this is because new technology is allowing them to find small thyroid cancers that may not have been found in the past.
Thyroid cancer typically doesn't cause any signs or symptoms early in the disease. As thyroid cancer grows, it may cause:
- A lump (nodule) that can be felt through the skin on your neck
- Changes to your voice, including increasing hoarseness
- Difficulty swallowing
- Pain in your neck and throat
- Swollen lymph nodes in your neck
It's not clear what causes thyroid cancer.
Thyroid cancer occurs when cells in your thyroid undergo genetic changes (mutations). The mutations allow the cells to grow and multiply rapidly. The cells also lose the ability to die, as normal cells would. The accumulating abnormal thyroid cells form a tumor. The abnormal cells can invade nearby tissue and can spread (metastasize) to other parts of the body.
Types of thyroid cancer include:
- Papillary thyroid cancer.
- Follicular thyroid cancer.
- Anaplastic thyroid cancer.
- Medullary thyroid cancer.
- Other rare types.
Factors that may increase the risk of thyroid cancer include:
- Female sex. Thyroid cancer occurs more often in women than in men.
- Exposure to high levels of radiation. Radiation therapy treatments to the head and neck increase the risk of thyroid cancer.
- Certain inherited genetic syndromes. Genetic syndromes that increase the risk of thyroid cancer include familial medullary thyroid cancer, multiple endocrine neoplasia, Cowden's syndrome and familial adenomatous polyposis.
Tests and procedures used to diagnose thyroid cancer include:
- Physical exam.
- Blood tests.
- Ultrasound imaging
- Removing a sample of thyroid tissue
- Other imaging tests.
- Genetic testing.
- Thyroid hormone therapy
- Radioactive iodine
- External radiation therapy
- Targeted drug therapy
- Injecting alcohol into cancers
- Supportive (palliative) care
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