Thyroid Cancer

Nov 11, 2022, 16:45 IST

A thyroid cancer is an unusual form of cancer or the growth of a abnormal cells in the thyroid gland. The thyroid gland is an butterfly-shaped endocrine gland located on the front of the neck just below Adam's apple. The primary responsibility of this gland is to produce the hormones triiodothyronine (T3) and thyroxine (T4).

In most of the cases, women seem to be more vulnerable to this disease than men, which is more common in older people. In most cases, thyroid cancer causes a lump in the gland known as a thyroid nodule. Most of these nodules are benign (or) noncancerous, but about 10% are malignant.

Types of Thyroid Cancer

Thyroid cancer can be divided into three groups, namely-

  1. Papillary thyroid cancer

Papillary carcinomas or papillary adenocarcinomas is the most common form of the thyroid cancer, accounting for approximately 80% to85% of all the reported cases. Papillary cancer also affects the follicular cells in the gland. It is usually located in one of the gland's two lobes, which spreads relatively slowly. In some instances, it spread to the lymph nodes in the neck.

  1. Medullary thyroid cancer

Medullary thyroid cancer is a form of the thyroid cancer that usually originates from C cells in the thyroid gland. C cells are mainly responsible for secretion of the hormone calcitonin. Thyroid cancer is difficult to localize because it spreads to the lymph, liver, or lungs. Medullary thyroid cancer is divided into sporadic medullary thyroid cancer (non-genetic, non-hereditary) and familial medullary thyroid cancer (inherited across generations, genetic).

  1. Anaplastic thyroid cancer

It is the rarest forms of the thyroid cancer and is virtually undetectable because these cancer cells are entirely different from the normal thyroid cells when examined under a microscope. This cancer spreads quickly to other organs, making it extremely difficult to diagnose and treat. Other forms of the thyroid disease, such as thyroid lymphoma, thyroid sarcoma, and other tumors, are extremely rare.

Symptoms of Thyroid Cancer

Thyroid cancer is generally identified by a variety of signs and symptoms, such as:

  • Swelling in the neck
  • Difficulty in swallowing
  • Pain in the neck and the ears
  • A frequent cough without the cold
  • Abnormal voice change
  • The presence of a lump or nodule on the thyroid gland
  • This syndrome is difficult to diagnose sometimes as it shows no symptoms or signs. Having periodic checkups is recommended for preventing such outcomes.

Causes of Thyroid Cancers

According to the experts, there is no exact cause of thyroid cancer. There are a few factors that might be the reason or cause of this cancer. These factors include:

  • Changes in the DNA of cells
  • Exposed to more radiation
  • Low iodine diet
  • Exposure of a neck for X-rays and CT scans
  • Intake of tobacco or smoking with thyroid disorders

Diagnosis of Thyroid Cancer

Below are a few tests used for diagnosing thyroid cancer.

  • A doctor carries out a physical test to examine a patient’s thyroid gland changes.
  • Blood tests to determine the functioning of a thyroid gland
  • A biopsy is conducted into a thyroid nodule to check for the presence of the cancer cells
  • Positron emission tomography (PET)
  • Computerized tomography scans – CT scans
  • Genetic testing is mainly performed to find the family history of thyroid cancer

Treatment for Thyroid Cancer

Thyroid cancer is treated both with the surgery and by the radioactive iodine. In most cases, radiation therapy is also used as a mode of the treatment. Before treating a patient with this cancer, it is more important to check the patient's age, type, and stage of thyroid cancer. Other treatments include:

  • Targeted drug therapy
  • Alcohol ablation
  • Chemotherapy
  • Thyroid hormone therapy
  • Removal of the thyroid and the infected gland through surgery

Frequently Asked Question (FAQs)

Q1. What kills thyroid cancer cells?

Ans. Radioactive iodine treatment uses a form of radioactive iodine to kill the thyroid cells and the thyroid cancer cells that might remain after the surgery. It's most often used to treat the differentiated thyroid cancers that risk spreading to other parts of the body.

Q2. Is it hard to treat thyroid cancer?

Ans. Thyroid cancer is a type of endocrine cancer, is highly treatable, with an excellent cure rate.

Q3. What is the main cause of thyroid cancer?

Ans. Thyroid cancer is linked with the no. of inherited conditions, but the exact cause of the most thyroid cancers is not yet known. Specific changes in the DNA of a person's can cause thyroid cells to become cancerous.

Q4. What is the most treatable thyroid cancer?

Ans. Papillary Thyroid Cancer

Q5. What foods fight thyroid cancer?

Ans. Below are a few list of foods that help to fight thyroid cancer-

  1. Eat plenty of vegetables daily.
  2. Choose mostly whole grains.
  3. For protein, include dried beans (legumes, ae.g., chickpeas, lentils, edamame, black beans).
  4. Limit processed meats, added sugars, and alcohol.
  5. Be physically active and maintain a healthy weight.

Related Link

Talk to Our counsellor