Thyroid Cancer

by Kemboi Kibet

Thyroid cancer is cancer that starts in the thyroid gland. The thyroid gland is located at the base your neck just below the adam’s apple.Thyroid glands produces thyroid hormones which are important in regulation of the metabolism of the body.Thyroid cancer is three times more common in women than men and there are four types namely papillary, follicular, medullary, and anaplastic. Thyroid cancer does not always cause symptoms. The first sign of this type of cancer however is a thyroid nodule.People who have received radiation to the head and neck in their childhood are at high risk for thyroid cancer. Most thyroid can cancers are very curable.

TYPES OF THYROID CANCER

Papillary carcinoma . This is the most common type of thyroid cancer.It begins in the follicular cells and usually grows slowly.It is also the least dangerous type. When caught early, it is very treatable.

Follicular carcinoma is more likely to come back and spread. It is the second most common type and easily treatable when found early. It occurs in slightly older age people and rare in children.

Medullary carcinoma It occurs in non-thyroid cells that are normally present in the thyroid gland.It begins in C cells and can make abnormally high levels of calcitonin. This type runs in families.

Anaplastic carcinoma is the most dangerous type of thyroid cancer and spreads qucikly.Even though it is rare, this type is very hard to control.

CAUSES

The exact cause of thyroid cancer is unknown however it happens when cells of the thyroid gland acquire some mutations. These make the cells proliferate abnormally and forming a mass called a tumor.The abnormal cells can spread throughout the whole body.

RISK FACTORS

Exposure to high levels of radiation to the head or neck during childhood or during a nuclear accident

Personal history of goiter

Having genetic syndromes that increase your risk of thyroid cancer. These include familial medullary thyroid cancer, multiple endocrine neoplasia and familial adenomatous polyposis.

Family history of thyroid cancer

SYMPTOMS

Symptoms vary depending on the type of thyroid cancer and this may include

difficulty swallowing
pain in neck and throat
hoarseness
neck lump
thyroid lump
coughing
swollen lymph nodes in the neck

TEST AND DIAGNOSIS

Physical exam. The doctor may check for swollen lymph glands in the neck and lumps in the thyroid

Blood test. This is to check for the level of thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) in your body. Too much or too little means thyroid is not working well. If medullary carcinoma is suspected, your doctor will check for high calcitonin.

Ultrasound of the thyroid gland. This uses sound waves to create a picture of the thyroid and the doctor checks for any tumors and abnormalities.

Thyroid biopsy is done by taking sample tissue from the thyroid and checking in the lab for cancer cells .

TREATMENT

Treatment for thyroid cancer may depend on the type and stage of cancer,the overall health of patient and preference.

Surgery Most people with thyroid cancer may undergo surgery to remove all or part of the thyroid.

Removing all or most of the thyroid (thyroidectomy) It is the most common treatment for thyroid cancer. Surgeon leaves small rims of thyroid tissue around the parathyroid glands to reduce the risk of parathyroid damage.

Removing lymph nodes in the neck and testing them for cancer

Taking radioactive iodine by mouth. This treatment is often used after thyroidectomy to destroy any remaining healthy thyroid tissue, as well as small areas of thyroid cancer that weren’t removed during surgery.

Chemotherapy is a drug treatment that uses chemicals to kill cancer cells.It is given through IV and travels through the blood killing cancer cells.

Radiation therapy uses high-energy beams to kill cancer cells

Thyroid hormone medication levothyroxine (Levothroid, Synthroid, others) are given for life. It supplies the missing hormone your thyroid would normally produce, and it suppresses the production TSH.

COMPLICATIONS

spread of cancer to lungs, bones and other parts of the body
injury to voice box
low levels of calcium due to accidental removal of parathyroid glands during surgery

PREVENTION

There is no sure way to prevent thyroid cancer however knowing about risk can help in early diagnosis. People with family history of thyroid cancer or inherited gene mutation may remove the thyroid gland through surgery to prevent this cancer.

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