Thyroid Cancer

What is Thyroid Cancer?

Thyroid cancer is a disease that occurs when the thyroid gland has abnormal cells growing in it.

The thyroid gland makes hormones that help your body work and use energy. Thyroid cancer is fairly uncommon and it is usually diagnosed early, making treatment more likely to be successful. It can come back, even after many years have passed since treatment.

What are the Symptoms of Thyroid Cancer?

The most common symptoms of thyroid cancer is a swelling or lump in the neck.  Along with this symptom you may also experience neck or ear pain or have difficulty swallowing or even breathing.

This can be accompanied by a hoarse throat and constant wheezing and an ongoing cough.  Some people do not have any signs at all and the lump is found by a doctor during a routine exam.  The doctor may check to see if the lump is cancerous with a biopsy.

Causes of Thyroid Cancer

Even the experts don’t know the exact cause of thyroid cancer, but there are similar parallels determining its origin. A family history of thyroid disease or cancer magnifies the threat.

DNA structures are a leading cause of this type of cancer, followed by the aging process. In some cases, inherited DNA mutations trigger a reaction to health treatments or daily behaviors causing thyroid cancer.

Excessive exposure to X-ray or medical radiation treatments that focus on the head, neck or chest areas contribute to higher incidences of thyroid cancer. Some health care or therapies increase the risks, with the effects showing up more than six years after treatment.

Insufficient amounts of iodine in your diet amplify the risks. Since the body doesn’t make iodine, a diet lacking in this nutrient leads to a deficiency preventing the body from generating enough thyroid hormone. The results cause goitres or an enlarged thyroid, leading to thyroid cancer.

How is Thyroid Cancer Treated?

Treatment for thyroid cancer focuses on eliminating the cancerous cells in your body.  There are several ways to do this and the type of thyroid cancer, the stage of cancer, your age, and your general health will help your doctor decide what option is best for you.

Surgery to remove the thyroid gland is usually required. Sometimes, doctors will not know if it is cancerous or not until the lump has been removed.

Surgery may be followed up by a treatment of radioactive iodine that is injected and will destroy any remaining tissue of the thyroid that was left behind. After the thyroid has been removed completely, thyroid hormone medications will be required for the rest of your life to replace the hormones that were produced by your thyroid.  This will prevent hypothyroidism.

Thyroid Cancer Prevention

Knowing the family medical histories on both parental sides, with an awareness of gender and age for occurring thyroid diseases, is the best prevention. This condition is preventable and curable in early stages with blood tests looking for inherited cell mutations suggesting thyroid cancer.

Today’s imaging tests have lower radiation levels, yet the risk for small or younger children can be further reduced with alternative tests or few x-rays and CT scans. Talk with your doctor and voice your concerns. Understand that the doctor needs a clear picture before treating any condition.

A healthy diet of iodine foods and routine health checks monitoring the thyroid gland can help prevent thyroid cancer. Although both genders are susceptible to thyroid cancer, the disease affects more women at all ages. The reason may be a woman’s lack of thyroid hormone, which protects the body against cancer.

Last Reviewed:
October 11, 2016
Last Updated:
April 07, 2019
Content Source: