Understanding Thyroid Cancer

Understanding Thyroid Cancer

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Being diagnosed with any type of cancer can be a scary experience. However, some cancers have a higher success rate than others and thyroid cancer happens to be one of those cancers. Those who are diagnosed with thyroid cancer have about a 90% chance of being given a good or excellent chance of full recovery.

The thyroid is located in the neck area. The thyroid itself sits in front of the trachea and is shaped like a butterfly. The thyroid is a gland that gives off a thyroid hormone, the purpose of which is to regulate the heart, blood pressure and weight.

There are four main types of thyroid cancer, which consist of papillary cancer (the most common type of thyroid cancer), follicular cancer, medullary cancer and anaplastic cancer.

The National Cancer Institutes Records estimate close to 45,000 cases of thyroid cancer being detected in 2010. Of those, only approximately 1,600 will be fatal.

While every person experiences cancer in different ways, the most common symptom of thyroid cancer is a swelling or blockage in the airway or digestive tract. Another symptom to beware of is swollen or enlarged lymph nodes. Some may experience pain in the neck or may experience a hoarseness of voice when attempting to talk.

Certain factors may make a person more prone to thyroid cancer. These factors do not mean a person will experience thyroid cancer, however, it does increase their chances. Being between the ages of 25-65 can increase the possibility of this condition. Females are more likely to experience thyroid nodules, however men are more likely to have cancer. Those with a family history of goiters may have a higher rate of experiencing this type of cancer. A history of thyroid cancer is also a factor. For some reason thyroid cancer rates are higher among Asians than other races.

In order to make an accurate diagnosis, a physician or specialist should be consulted. The first step is to do a physical examination and talk to the patient about family history and other risk factors. After that, a laryngoscope may be inserted down the throat, so the physician can see the swollen area. Additional testing may include blood tests, ultra sounds, CT scans, MRIs and Petscans. A biopsy may be taken, which means a sample of the growth will be removed and tested.

Of the four types of thyroid cancer previously mentioned, anaplastic cancer is the most dangerous. Cure rates with this type of cancer are low and the thyroid along with surrounding lymph nodes are often removed.

As with any type of cancer, early detection increases odds of survival. Those who experience hoarseness, any type of swelling of the thyroid or the lymph nodes are encouraged to see a physician as soon as possible. The high success rates of treatment for thyroid cancer should be a motivating factor to get help as soon as possible.


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