The thyroid is a butterfly-shaped gland present at the base of the neck. It is responsible for producing hormones that modulate heart rate, blood pressure, weight, and body temperature. If there is a mutation of the cells of this organ and they begin to spread, a person is diagnosed with cancer of the thyroid.
Over the last couple of decades, the incident rate of thyroid cancer in India has gone up.
What are the different types of Thyroid Cancer?
There are four kinds of thyroid cancer-
Among all the cancer types, papillary is the most prevalent. Anaplastic is the most difficult form of cancer to treat. The other types, if detected soon enough can easily be treated.
What are the Symptoms of Thyroid Cancer?
Thyroid cancer is accompanied by some or all of the following symptoms-
• Pain in the neck or face
• Trouble swallowing
• Constant coughing even when the person has not contracted the common cold
• Hoarse voice
• Swelling in the neck
• Inflamed lymph nodes in the neck
What are the causes of Thyroid Cancer?
The exact cause of thyroid cancer is unknown. We all inherit genes that allow cells to live longer than they should and certain other genes slow down the multiplication of cells and kill them when the time is right. But, if there is something wrong with these genes, then that ups the risk of thyroid cancer.
What are the Risk Factors of Thyroid Cancer?
• Women are more likely to get thyroid cancer than men
• Exposure to radiation increases cancer risk. That is why people who work in nuclear plants have higher chances of contracting thyroid cancer than others.
• A history of goiter may make a person more susceptible.
• A family history of cancer
How is Thyroid Cancer detected?
A simple physical examination will be followed by blood tests to determine blood calcitonin and calcium levels. The doctor may advise an Ultrasound test and later a biopsy.
Treatment of Thyroid Cancer-
Depending on the stage of cancer, the person’s medical history and general health, the doctor will decide how to treat thyroid cancer-
This is the most common form of treatment. A small incision is made along the upper part of the neck and the thyroid gland is removed. If cancer had spread to the lymph nodes, then they too need to be extracted.
Radioactive Iodine Therapy- Thyroid glands absorb iodine from the body. That is why when radioactive iodine enters the body, it starts to accumulate in the thyroid cells and the radiation slowly begins to kill off the cancerous cells.
Hormone Therapy- TSH hormone secreted by the pituitary gland triggers the production of thyroid hormones. However, TSH is also responsible for the development of thyroid cancer cells. By injecting high levels of thyroid hormone into the body, TSH levels can be moderated and in this way, the spread of cancer can be halted.
Thyroid cancer can bring pain, anxiety and financial loss. It is better to learn how to identify the signs and seek treatment at the earliest.