Critical information you need to know about thyroid cancer

Cancer refers to the condition where cells of the body begin growing out of control, through mutation. Any cell in any part of the body can develop into cancer. However, thyroid cancer refers to the type of cancer that attacks cells of the thyroid glands. The thyroid gland is located in the lower front of the neck and is shaped like a butterfly. There are four types: Papillary thyroid cancer, Follicular thyroid cancer, Medullary cancer and Anaplastic thyroid cancer.

What causes thyroid Cancer? 

Similar to other forms of cancer, the actual cause of this type of cancer is yet to be determined. However, experts have established three risk factors that may lead to thyroid cancer; genetic inheritance, iodine deficiency and radiation exposure. For the first risk factor, if your parents were suffering from any type of thyroid cancer, there are chances that you may inherit the affected gene. For instance, about 20% of patients who have medullary cancer inherit the condition from their parents. Iodine deficiency may also lead to thyroid cancer. Also, if your neck gets exposed to radiation, you risk getting thyroid cancer.

What are some of the symptoms of thyroid cancer?

If you have any of these signs and symptoms, it is prudent that you get tested for cancer. Some of the alarming signs and symptoms of thyroid gland include; a lump in the neck, difficulty in swallowing and breathing, a painful sensation at the front of the neck, persistent cough in the absence of a cold and hoarseness of the voice. 

However, these signs and symptoms are similar to the signs and symptoms of other conditions. For instance, the swelling of the neck is also a sign of goitre whereas difficulty in swallowing is a symptom of tonsillitis. It is, therefore, better to test for the absence of the other conditions before testing for thyroid cancer.

Who is at risk?

Thyroid cancer is common in older adults, mostly those above the age of 40s. However, young adults can also be at risk of getting thyroid cancer. Moreover, generally, for all types of thyroid cancer, women are at a higher risk than men.

Can it be treated?

Thyroid cancer can be treated, and even cured. Treating means that the patient is assisted, whereas curing means that after the treatment, the condition seizes to exist in the patient. The cancer is treated through surgery, during which the thyroid gland and sometimes the lymph nodes in the neck. It helps if you are diagnosed early.