Thyroid cancer is a rare type of cancer that affects thousands of Americans each year. It can be difficult to identify whether you have developed this condition as it is rather complex. However, with the right diagnosis, you can start your treatment which comes in several different forms.
In this article, we will be discussing thyroid cancer in its entirety. What is it? What causes it? How do you treat it?
What Is Thyroid Cancer?
Thyroid cancer is a cancer that affects the thyroid gland. This small gland is located at the base of your neck and its job is to produce hormones. It has been suggested that more than 12% of the US population will develop a thyroid condition during their lifetime. It is most common in people who are in their 30’s.
However, those who are over the age of 60 can also develop this condition. Although men can experience thyroid cancer during their lifetime, it is most common in women.
What Causes Thyroid Cancer?
If the DNA inside your thyroid cells changes, this can cause them to grow uncontrollably which then produces a lump on your neck. Currently, there is no indication of what causes this to happen. However, there are several things that have been known to increase your risk. A family history of thyroid cancer puts you at a higher risk of developing it yourself. Other thyroid conditions, such as goiter and an underactive thyroid, can also put you at a higher risk.
If you have a family history related to thyroid cancer or any other thyroid conditions, then it is important that you speak to your doctor. They may be able to help you identify any symptoms early and you can work quickly to treat your condition. Your doctor can always give you peace of mind and help you manage your condition.
What Are the Symptoms?
Like most types of cancer, thyroid cancer comes with a long list of symptoms. One of the most common is a neck lump. This rare form of cancer can cause a painless lump to appear on your neck, however, this is not the case for everyone.
If you do not have a lump, then you may also experience swelling low down in the front of the neck. It is important to note that not all neck lumps are a tell-tale sign of cancer. However, there are a few signs which could tell you that it is. For instance, if your neck lump is firm, increases in size, and is hard to move then this could be a sign that it is cancer.
It is important to familiarize yourself with the other symptoms associated with thyroid cancer, so you know what to look out for. Not everyone will experience the same symptoms, and some may experience more than others. If you experience any of the symptoms associated with thyroid cancer, then it is important that you consult with your doctor at your nearest convenience.
How Do You Treat Thyroid Cancer?
Treatment of this condition will depend on what type of thyroid cancer you have, which we will delve into in the next section of this article. There are several different treatments available. Some of the most common treatments include a thyroidectomy. This is a surgery that involves removing part or all of the thyroid. Radiotherapy is also a common treatment. This process involves a machine that uses direct beams of radiation to kill cancer cells.
Chemotherapy and targeted therapies like medicines can also be used to kill cancer cells. However, thyroid medication can cause a list of side effects that can transform your life as outlined in Dr. Ruscio’s guide. Your doctor will always consult you on the best course of action to take regarding treatment. However, it is important to be aware of the side effects that come with each one.
Are There Different Types of Thyroid Cancer?
Thyroid cancer comes in four different forms. These are Papillary Carcinoma, Follicular Carcinoma, Medullary Thyroid Carcinoma and Anaplastic Thyroid Carcinoma. Papillary carcinoma is the most common type whilst the other three are rarer. Typically, both papillary and follicular are the easiest to treat.
Sometimes, thyroid cancer can be cured completely with the right treatment. However, there are some cases where it can come back further down the line.
Anaplastic Thyroid Carcinoma is the most serious form of thyroid cancer and the rarest out of all four. Typically, this type affects people over the age of 60. If not treated, it can result in serious consequences. Therefore it is hugely important that you consult with your doctor if you are experiencing any symptoms.
How Do You Diagnose Thyroid Cancer?
There are a few different stages that you can go through during your diagnosis. Firstly, you should book an appointment with your doctor if you are experiencing any symptoms, particularly a pain in your neck. Your doctor will examine your neck and ask you a few other symptom-related questions. If your doctor suspects that you have thyroid cancer, they will organize some tests for you to undergo. They may even refer you to a hospital specialist.
A blood test will typically be required. It will help to check the levels of thyroid hormone in your blood. If your thyroid hormone levels are normal, then you may need to undergo an ultrasound. A biopsy may also be carried out to check if the lump in your neck is cancerous. This includes sticking a thin needle into the lump to sample the cells. You can find out more about how a biopsy works through some online resources.
Unfortunately, thyroid cancer is a condition that continues to affect thousands of people each year. However, with a widened knowledge of this condition and its symptoms, you can better identify this condition in its early stages and quickly work to treat it. If you are ever concerned about your health, you should always book an appointment with your doctor at your nearest convenience.