Thyroid cancer is an uncommon type of cancer that develops when abnormal cells begin to grow in your thyroid gland. The thyroid gland is a butterfly shaped gland located in the front of your neck. This important gland produces hormones that regulate your heart rate, blood pressure, body temperature, metabolism, the way our body uses energy and helps your body to work normally.
Thyroid cancer is not common in the United States but the rate seems to be increasing in the past several years. This might be due to the fact that latest technology is allowing the doctors to examine the smaller thyroid cancers which were not possible to detect earlier. Another possible factor is mammograms and dental x-rays. Thyroid cancer sometimes may return after several years of treatment.
Causes of Thyroid Cancer:
The exact cause of thyroid cancer in most of the thyroid cancer cases is unknown. It takes place when different cells in the thyroid gland undergo genetic changes (mutations). The mutations result in rapid growth and multiplying of the cells. These cells lose their ability to die like other normal healthy cells. These abnormal cells then accumulate and form a tumor. Also abnormal cells may invade nearby tissue and can multiply and spread throughout your body.
Exposure to radiations may increase your chance of getting thyroid cancer. A single dental X-ray can not cause thyroid cancer, but past radiation treatment of neck, head or chest especially during childhood may increase the risk of getting the disease.
Symptoms of thyroid cancer
There are not many significant symptoms at the initial stages of thyroid cancer. But as the cancer grows, it may cause several symptoms which include:
1. A lump in your neck that can be felt or seen through your skin (this is the most common symptom)
2. A hoarse voice and/or change in your voice
3. Difficulty in swallowing
4. Neck and throat pain
5. Swollen lymph nodes in neck
6. Trouble in breezing or you may have constant wheezing
7. Continuous cough which is not related to cold
Some people do not have any symptoms and their cancer is diagnosed by their doctors by finding a lump or nodule in the neck during a routine check up. If you feel a lump in your neck, this could be a thyroid cancer or not. Your doctor will do a biopsy of your thyroid gland in order to check for the presence of cancerous cells. Biopsy is a simple process which involves removal of a small piece of the thyroid tissue with the help of a needle and checking the tissue under a microscope.
There are certain factors that can increase your risk of getting thyroid cancer which include:
1. Female gender – The thyroid cancer takes place in women more than men.
2. Certain inherited genetic syndromes – Genetic syndromes like familial medullary thyroid cancer, multiple endocrine neoplasia and familial adenomatous polyposis may increase your risk of thyroid cancer.
From the evidences available, it is observed that healthy and balanced diet is the best way to prevent yourself from thyroid and all other types of cancers.
A low fat, high fibre diet is suggested along with ample of fresh fruits and vegetables and whole grains.
Thyroid cancer is usually treated with surgery and often continue with radioactive iodine therapy. It rarely requires radiation or chemotherapy. The treatment depends on your age, type and severity of thyroid cancer and the stage of the disease.