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What is thyroid cancer?

Thyroid cancer is the cancer of the thyroid gland, which lies below the larynx in the front part of the neck. The thyroid gland is responsible for the regulation of various metabolic functions in the body. Uncontrolled growth of the cells of the gland results in the formation of a mass or a tumour that leads to the cancer of thyroid.

What are its main signs and symptoms?

Not all cases of thyroid cancer show symptoms from the start; however, the most common of the initial symptoms and signs of thyroid cancer include:

  • A lump in front of the neck (not visible in most cases)
  • Difficulty in swallowing or breathing
  • Hoarseness of the voice
  • Pain in the throat or neck area and cough
  • Hair fall
  • Loss of appetite and weight loss
  • Swelling in the throat region
  • Sweating
  • Intolerance to hot weather
  • Menstrual irregularities

What are the main causes?

Some inherited factors or genes are believed to be a causative factor in the development of thyroid cancer; however, the main cause resulting in thyroid cancer is unknown. Many common factors are noted in all cases of thyroid cancer, which cause or lead to thyroid cancer.

One important factor is the imbalance between oncogenes and tumour suppressor genes. The oncogenes are responsible for the growth of cancerous cells in the human body and the tumour suppressor genes slow down the growth or result in the death of the cancerous cells at the right time to prevent any tumorous growth.

Other factors which contribute to the development of thyroid cancer are:

  • Obesity
  • Family history of thyroid cancer
  • Exposure to radiation
  • An inherited condition of familial adenomatous polyposis

How is it diagnosed and treated?

If one sees the signs or symptoms hinting at development of thyroid cancer, the individual should see the doctor. There are some tests which may be ordered to find out a definite cause and check for possible thyroid cancer. These tests include:

  • Blood test – A blood test, known as thyroid function test, is performed to check for abnormal levels of thyroid hormones in the bloodstream. An increased level points towards a probable condition of thyroid cancer.
  • Biopsy
  • MRI Scan
  • CT Scan

Upon determining a case of thyroid cancer, the doctors stage the condition (determine the severity and extent of cancer) and provide treatment accordingly. Some of the basic and most common treatment process in case of thyroid cancer are:

  • Radioactive iodine treatment
  • Thyroidectomy – Surgery to remove the thyroid or part of it
  • Radiotherapy
  • Chemotherapy.
  1. Medicines for Thyroid Cancer
  2. Doctors for Thyroid Cancer
nitin

nitin

Oncology
2 Years of Experience

Dr. Arabinda Roy

Dr. Arabinda Roy

Oncology
5 Years of Experience

Dr. C. Arun Hensley

Dr. C. Arun Hensley

Oncology
4 Years of Experience

Dr. Sanket Shah

Dr. Sanket Shah

Oncology
7 Years of Experience

References

  1. National Health Service [Internet]. UK; Thyroid cancer.
  2. American Cancer Society [Internet] Atlanta, Georgia, U.S; About Thyroid Cancer.
  3. National Institutes of Health; National Cancer Institute. [Internet]. U.S. Department of Health & Human Services; Thyroid Cancer—Patient Version.
  4. MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia: US National Library of Medicine; Thyroid Cancer.
  5. Quang T. Nguyen et al. Diagnosis and Treatment of Patients with Thyroid Cancer. Am Health Drug Benefits. 2015 Feb; 8(1): 30–40. PMID: 25964831

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