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Thyroid Cancer, Symptoms, Causes, Types, Diagnosis and Treatment

Table of Content

  1. Thyroid Cancer
  2. Symptoms of Thyroid Cancer
  3. The thyroid gland
  4. Types of Thyroid Cancer
  5. How common is Thyroid Cancer?
  6. Causes of Thyroid Cancer
  7. Diagnosis of Thyroid Cancer
  8. Treatment of Thyroid Cancer

Thyroid Cancer


Thyroid cancer affects thyroid gland and is a rare type of cancer.

Symptoms of Thyroid Cancer

Thyroid cancer is identified by uneven swelling and painless lump advanced in the neck region. Most of the symptoms don’t prevail until the cancer is at its advance stage which includes:

  • Swelling and painless lump develops in your neck region.
  • The uneven hoarseness which may last for few weeks
  • Severe sore throat and feeling uneasiness during swallowing
  • Developing of a lump anywhere around your neck

Always keep in mind that development of lump in thyroid gland is not always due to thyroid gland. According to one estimate only 1 out of 20 cases reported for lump in thyroid are diagnosed to be cancerous.

The thyroid gland

Thyroid gland is locate in the form of two lobes nearby windpipe. It has several functions depending upon the chemicals which thyroid gland secretes at different stages.

Thyroid gland secretes 3 different types of hormone:

  • The first one is known as triiodothyronine also known as T3
  • Thyroxine also known as T4
  • calcitonin

The body’s metabolic rate is regulated by T3 and T4 hormones. Metabolic rate is the rate at which most of the body works process like burning of calories.

In case when your body has excess amount of T3 and T4 you will feel overactive which results in sudden weight loss. Reverse is the case when you are deficient with these hormones, you will become sluggish and put on weight.

The blood calcium level is regulated by calcitonin. Calcium is necessary in building strong and healthy bones.

Types of Thyroid Cancer

Four major types of thyroid cancer have been identified:

  • Papillary carcinoma is the most common type of thyroid cancer, which accounts for almost 60% of the overall reported thyroid cancer cases. It normally affects women and occurs commonly in people under 40 years of age.
  • Follicular carcinoma is the second most common type of thyroid cancer and accounts for almost 15% cases of thyroid cancer. It normally affects older people.
  • Medullary carcinoma causes 4-8% cases of thyroid cancer. It run in families i.e. it is transferred to babies from their parents.
  • Anaplastic thyroid carcinoma is the rarest type of thyroid cancer. It is the most aggressive type, but account for almost 1 out of 20 cases of thyroid cancer. It mostly affects older people.

Follicular and papillary carcinomas are also called as differentiated thyroid cancer and are treated in almost the same way.

thyroid cancer

How common is Thyroid Cancer?

It is the rare type of cancer and accounts for less than 1% of cancer cases reported in UK. Every year, almost 2700 people are reported to have thyroid cancer in UK. Thyroid cancer usually affects individuals having age between 35 to 39 years or people with 70 year or above. It is most common in women than in men. The real cause behind this is still unknown, but it may be due to some kind of hormonal imbalance.

Causes of Thyroid Cancer

The real causes of thyroid cancer are unknown, but factors are identified which may increase the risk of developing thyroid cancer. Common risk factors include:

  • If you have a benign thyroid condition, it may transfer in to malignant type
  • If you have a family history of thyroid cancer
  • If you have a bowel condition
  • Acromegaly, during which body produces extra growth hormones
  • If you have a previous benign breast carcinoma
  • Your weight and height may contribute
  • If you are exposed to radiations

Diagnosis of Thyroid Cancer

Thyroid function test is required to diagnose thyroid cancer. It is type of blood test which measures hormone level in blood and confirm the real causes of thyroid problems. If nothing is found in the blood test then fine needle aspiration cytology is employed.

If these results are inconclusive then further tests are required to further confirm the condition.

Treatment of Thyroid Cancer

The treatment entirely depends on the condition and grade of cancer. It also depends on whether the complete cure is possible or not.

Thyroidectomy which is a combination of surgery is used to completely remove the differentiated thyroid cancer. Additionally radiotherapy is employed to destroy the remaining cells, which prevents the cancer returning.

Medullary thyroid carcinomas are the aggressive type of cancer and spread faster so complete removal of lump is necessary to eliminate the chances of its recurrence.

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Updated: September 5, 2015 — 11:20 am
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