Thyroid Cancer

The thyroid gland is located in your neck, at the base of your Adam’s apple, and is a very important part of the endocrine system of your body. Hormones that the gland secretes are responsible for things such as your body temperature, hair growth and loss, weight loss and gain, and other aspects of your metabolism. Thyroid cancer can have serious consequences, but it is highly treatable if caught early.

Symptoms and Causes of Thyroid Cancer

The main symptoms of this cancer appear in the throat area. Hoarseness, coughing, trouble breathing, a lump or nodule at the front of your throat, and swollen lymph nodes are all symptoms that may appear. A pain in the neck or throat area, and pain when swallowing can also be present, though there aren’t always symptoms in the early stages of cancer.

Family history is a big factor in whether you’re at risk for thyroid cancer. It can be inherited through your family’s DNA, or you may simply be in a higher risk category due to your age, sex, race, or exposure to certain contaminants. White American women are most at risk, as those who have been exposed to radiation.

Thyroid Cancer Diagnosis and Treatment

The presence of a nodule is often noticed upon routine examination, though not all nodules end up being cancerous. To diagnose thyroid cancer, the doctor may do an ultrasound scan, blood tests, or a needle biopsy. The determination of cancer is made by the way the cells look and act when under a microscope, especially when compared to nearby cells in the gland and lymph nodes.

For malignant nodules, treatment will vary, but can include complete removal of the gland, radioiodine treatment, an external radioactive beam application, and chemotherapy. A thyroid scan is often used to detect any cancerous cells left behind, which can then be eliminated. A lifetime of supplemental hormone replacement therapy will be required.

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