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Thyroid Cancer

What Is Thyroid Cancer?

Thyroid cancer is a disease in which thyroid cells become abnormal, grow uncontrollably, and form a cancerous tumor. If left untreated, thyroid cancer can spread and cause harm to other parts of the body through a process called metastasis.

There are four major types of thyroid cancer. The four major types are: papillary, follicular, medullary, and anaplastic. The different types of look different under a microscope and grow at different rates.

Papillary cancer. This type of thyroid cancer develops in the cells that produce thyroid hormones containing iodine. Papillary cancer grows very slowly and contains cells that are similar to healthy thyroid cells. Papillary cancers account for about 60 to 80 percent of all thyroid cancers.

Follicular cancer. This type of cancer also develops in thyroid cells that produce iodine-containing hormones. About 10 to 30 percent of thyroid cancers are follicular cancers.

Medullary cancer. Medullary cancer is more difficult to control than papillary and follicular thyroid cancers. It is more difficult to control because the cancer cells tend to spread to other parts of the body. The cells involved in medullary cancers produce calcitonin. Calcitonin does not contain iodine. About 5 to 7 percent of all thyroid cancers are medullary cancers.

What is the Thyroid Gland?

The thyroid gland is a type of endocrine gland, that secretes hormones (thyroglobulin) necessary for growth and proper metabolism. The thyroid gland also maintains blood calcium balance within a narrow range. The thyroid gland is necessary for life. It is located in the lower part of the neck.

What Causes Thyroid Cancer?

The exact cause of thyroid cancer is unknown. However, several factors have been noted to increase the risk of developing thyroid cancer.

Some of the noted factors of developing thyroid cancer are:

  • are an enlarged thyroid gland
  • the presence of nodules on the thyroid
  • radiation exposure
  • family history of thyroid cancer
  • chronic infections
  • inflammation of the thyroid

What are the Signs and Symptoms of Thyroid Cancer?

Early stages of thyroid cancer usually has no symptoms, it is just a small lump in the thyroid. As the cancer grows, it may produce the following symptoms: Neck Mass, Hoarseness, Neck Pain, Swallowing Difficulty, Breathing Difficulty, and Swollen Glands.

Can Thyroid Cancer be Prevented?

Unfortunately, since most people with thyroid cancer have no known risk factors, it is very difficult to prevent most cases of thyroid cancer.

Can Thyroid Cancer be treated?

Yes. The treatment for thyroid cancer depends on the type and stage of disease, as well as the age and overall health of the patient. Types of treatment used are: surgery (removal of the diseased part of the thyroid), chemotherapy, radioactive iodine therapy and/or hormone therapy.

Effects of Treatment

Thyroid Cancer Statistics

  • Each year in the U.S.A. there are about 15,600 people diagnosed with thyroid cancer.
  • About 1,200 people die from it each year in the United States.
  • Women are affected about three times more than men.
  • Thyroid cancer is more common in people of Asian descent.

Thyroid Cancer Support Groups

 

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