Thyroid cancer develops in the thyroid glands. It is more commonly seen in women than in men. 90% of cases, however, are benign and can be treated. Hence, this cancer type is considered excellent survival rates.
Types of Thyroid Cancer
Depending on the type of affected cell, the thyroid cancer is of the following types:
- Papillary thyroid cancer: This type of cancer develops in the follicular cells of the thyroid gland. The follicular cells are responsible for synthesizing and storing thyroid hormones. This type of cancer also easily spreads to lymph nodes in the neck.
- Follicular thyroid cancer: This type of cancer also develops in the follicular cells. It is most commonly observed above the age of 50 and can easily spread to the lymph nodes in the neck.
- Medullary thyroid cancer: This type of cancer develops in the C cells of the thyroid gland. These cells are responsible for producing a hormone called calcitonin. An abrupt rise in the calcitonin levels is a sign of early-stage medullary thyroid cancer.
- Anaplastic thyroid cancer: Also called undifferentiated carcinoma, this type spreads quickly in the body and is more commonly observed in ages above 60 years.
The symptoms of thyroid cancer may not be visible in the early stage. With time, however, the following symptoms may occur:
- A persistent lump or nodule in the neck.
- Difficulty in swallowing.
- Pain in the neck, ear or throat.
- Swollen lymph nodes in the neck.
- Change in voice.
- Difficulty breathing.
- Persistent cough without cold.
The common causes include:
- Gender: Women are more prone than men.
- Family history.
- Iodine deficiency.
- Other health conditions.
Upon visiting the hospital, the doctor will conduct the following tests to confirm thyroid cancer:
- Physical examination: The first test in which the doctor will thoroughly examine any lump or nodule. The doctor will also look for any abnormal growth in the neck.
- Imaging Tests: Various tests such as X-rays, CT scans, or MRIs will confirm the appearance of cancer.
- Thyroid scan: During this procedure, the doctor will examine the thyroid gland and check for lumps in the area.
- Biopsy: This is the final test in which a small tissue will be retrieved from the thyroid gland and examined for the presence of cancer cells.
Depending on the patient’s condition, oral cancers are treated with a multimodal approach. A combination of chemotherapy, surgery, radiation therapy, or targeted therapy will be planned according to the tumour size and growth.
- Chemotherapy: Anti-cancer drugs will be administered to the patient to kill cancer cells. This will either be administered before or after the surgery or as a part of palliative care.
- Thyroid hormone therapy: A hormone replacement therapy will also be started. In this therapy, the doctor will administer synthetic thyroid hormones to maintain the level of hormones in the body.
- Surgery: The tumour cell and surrounding healthy tissue will be removed by surgery. The surgery may remove cancer affected lobe of the gland (Lobectomy), both lobes of the gland (Near-total thyroidectomy), or the complete gland (total thyroidectomy).
- Radiation therapy: During this procedure, the cancerous cells will be killed with high-intensity radiation beams. Sometimes, radiation therapy is performed to kill what would have remained after the surgery.