There is a butterfly-shaped gland at the end of your throat, just below your Adam’s Apple called Thyroid. The function of this Thyroid gland is to generate hormones that regulate your blood pressure, temperature, heart rate and weight.
The rate of thyroid cancer is increasing day by day. The researchers believe that new technologies are helping them in finding tiny cancers that could not be found in the past.
Types of thyroid cancer:
Based on the different cells found in tumour thyroid cancer is classified in many types. The different types of thyroid cancers are:
- Papillary thyroid cancer:
This is the most common type of thyroid cancer which is generated from follicular cells (that produce and store thyroid hormones). This type can occur at any age but people between 30 to 50 have the highest risks.
- Anaplastic thyroid cancer:
It is a rare type of follicular thyroid cancer. It is very difficult to cure as cells increase rapidly. This type is found usually people of age 60 and above.
- Medullary thyroid cancer:
Medullary thyroid cancer begins in thyroid cells also called C cells. These cells produce hormones called calcitonin. Increase level of calcitonin cells in blood indicates medullary thyroid cancer.
- Follicular thyroid cancer:
Like papillary, follicular thyroid cancer is also produced by follicle cells. It usually occurs in people more than 50 years of age. Hurtle cancer is a severe condition of follicular thyroid cancer.
- Other rare types:
Thyroid lymphoma and thyroid sarcoma are two rare types of thyroid cancers. Thyroid lymphoma begins in immune system cells of the thyroid gland while thyroid sarcoma starts in connective tissues of the thyroid.
No signs and symptoms appear at the beginning of the disease. However, the symptoms start showing up gradually. These symptoms may include:
- Difficult to swallow
- A lump in your throat that can be seen through the skin
- Pain in neck
- Change in your voice
- Swollen lymph node
The precise causes of thyroid cancer are not known yet. However, genetic changes in the thyroid are seen in the case of thyroid cancer. Due to these changes\mutations, cells grow repeatedly. Also, cells do not have the ability to die like normal cells. These abnormal cells cause a tumour in thyroid glands. These cells can so affect nearby tissues and other body parts.
The factors that can increase the chances of thyroid cancer includes:
- This disease is more common in women than in men.
- There are higher chances of thyroid if you had radiation therapy on your neck and head.
- There are some genetically inherited syndromes that can cause thyroid cancer such as endocrine neoplasia, familial medullary thyroid cancer, and Cowden’s syndrome.
Thyroid cancer can be diagnosed by:
- Physical exam:
Your doctor will take a physical exam of your neck to check for any nodule or changes in thyroid. He will also ask many questions including family medical history.
Ultrasound images help your doctor to take a better look on a nodule in thyroid.
- Blood test:
To determine the normal functioning of the thyroid gland, blood tests are taken.
- Removing a sample tissue:
Biopsy is performed that is taking a sample tissue of nodule from thyroid gland to check for tumour.
- Genetic test:
If you have a family history of cancer then your doctor will take a genetic test to look for genes that increase risks of cancer.
- Other imaging tests:
Other imaging tests such as MRI, CT scan and nuclear imaging tests are taken to take a better look of the tumour.
Treatments depend on the type and stage of the tumour of thyroid cancer. Sometimes cancer is so small and doesn’t spread further so no treatment is required. Most common treatments for thyroid include:
Most people require surgery to cure thyroid. A type of surgery depends upon size and type of your tumour.
Different surgeries to treat thyroid cancer include:
- Thyroidectomy (removing all thyroid)
- Thyroid lobotomy (removing a portion of thyroid)
- Lymph node dissection (removing nodes from neck)
- Thyroid hormone therapy:
Thyroid hormone medications are taken after thyroidectomy. The medication is given in this therapy supplies hormones that thyroid glands normally produce.
- Radioactive iodine:
Thyroid iodine treatment is done after thyroidectomy. This treatment is used to destroy remaining healthy tissues.
- External radiation therapy:
Radiations are given externally with high beams such as X-rays and protons at a precise point. External radiations are given if there is no option of surgery.
Medicines are prescribed to kill cancer cells. Chemotherapy is typically given as intake in your veins.