Thyroid cancer occurs when cancer cells form in the tissues of the thyroid gland. The thyroid is a butterfly-shaped gland located near the base of the throat. A healthy thyroid usually cannot be felt through the skin.
Sometimes, a nodule or lump can be found during a thyroid exam. This growth of thyroid cells is usually not cancerous. However, in some cases, cancer is present. There are four main types of thyroid cancer:
- Papillary thyroid cancer- This type of cancer forms in follicular cells in the thyroid. It is the most common form of thyroid cancer, is grows slowly. It is more common in women than men and often occurs before the age of 45.
- Follicular thyroid cancer- This form of cancer is the second most common, and is similar to papillary thyroid cancer. It grows slowly and can be treated fairly easily.
- Medullary thyroid cancer- Medullary thyroid cancer develops in the C cells of the thyroid, which help to make a hormone that helps to maintain calcium levels in the blood. It is associated with inherited syndromes, but can also occur without a family
- Anaplastic thyroid cancer- This type of cancer is the rarest, most aggressive form of thyroid cancer. In this case, the cancerous cells look very different from the healthy cells and grow very quickly.
Who is at Risk for Thyroid Cancer?
There are various risk factors that are associated with thyroid cancer. These include being a female between the ages of 25 and 65 years old, being exposed to radiation to the head or neck, having a history of an enlarged thyroid, having a family history of thyroid disease or cancer, or being of Asian descent. Common signs of thyroid cancer include:
- A lump or nodule in the neck
- Trouble swallowing
- Trouble breathing
- A hoarse voice
Thyroid Cancer Treatments
There is an array of tests that examine the thyroid to diagnose cancer. Tests or procedures that may be used to diagnose thyroid cancer may include a physical exam, laryngoscopy, blood hormone studies, blood chemistry studies, ultrasound or CT scan, or surgical biopsy.
Depending on the type of thyroid cancer, the stage of the cancer, the age of the patient, and the patient’s general health, treatment will vary. Possible treatment options may include surgery, radioactive iodine treatment, thyroid hormone therapy, chemotherapy, or targeted therapy.
If you believe you may have thyroid cancer, do not hesitate to contact Tuscaloosa ENT today. We will conduct a thorough examination and conduct testing to thoroughly and accurately diagnose you. If diagnosed with thyroid cancer, we will take the necessary steps to treat you with the most effective methods possible.