Thyroid Cancer - Health Center
By Refadoc, Posted on : Tuesday, 15 September 2015 - 10:46 am IST
Thyroid Cancer: Basic Overview
Thyroid Cancer occurs in the thyroid gland of the affected person. The Thyroid gland is a butterfly shaped gland which is found at the base of the neck. The Thyroid Gland is responsible for secreting the hormone, Thyroxin which helps to regulate the heart rate, blood pressure, body temperature as well as the body weight.
The rate for Thyroid Cancer is increasing all over the world. However, latest technology is making it possible for the doctors to diagnose the disease and treat it within a particular frame of time.
Causes and Kinds of Thyroid Cancer:
The real cause of Thyroid Cancer is unknown. However, the cancer forms when the cells found in the Thyroid gland undergo genetic changes or mutations. These mutations allow the cells to grow out of control. The cells, undergoing mutation also lose their power to die and thus, these abnormal cells invade the nearby tissues and spread all throughout the body of the affected person.
Types of Thyroid Cancer:
There are different kinds of Thyroid Cancers. Some of the major ones are as follows:
- Papillary Thyroid Cancer: This is one of the most common kind of cancer. This cancer begins from the follicular cells, which produce and store the thyroxin hormones. This kind of cancer can occur at any age, though people between 30-50 years of age are the most prone.
- Follicular Thyroid Cancer: This kind of cancer arises from the follicular cells in the thyroid gland. This kind of cancer affects the people above the age of 50. The Hurthle cell cancer is one of the rarest and aggressive kinds of Thyroid Cancer.
- Medullary Thyroid Cancer: Medullary Thyroid Cancer begins at the thyroid cells, which are also known as C Cells. These cells are responsible for the secretion of Calcitonin. High levels of Calcitonin in the bloodstream can lead to Medullary Thyroid Cancer.
- Anaplastic Thyroid Cancer: This kind of cancer is very rare and develops very rapidly. Anaplastic Thyroid Cancer develops mostly in people above the age of 60.
- Thyroid Lymphoma: This kind of cancer is one of the rarest forms of cancer. This begins in the immune system cells of the thyroid and grows very quickly. This is very common amongst the older adults.
Signs and Symptoms of Thyroid Cancer:
In the initial stages, there are no signs of Thyroid Cancer. However, as the stage of the cancer grows, the following signs and symptoms are as follows:
- Lump in the neck, which can be felt through the skin
- Hoarseness and change in the voice
- Difficulty while swallowing
- Pain in the neck and the throat
- Swelling in the lymph nodes of the neck
If you have been experiencing any of the above mentioned signs or symptoms, it is recommended to seek an appointment with the doctor.
Tests and Diagnosis of Thyroid Cancer:
The following are the diagnostic procedures for Thyroid Cancer:
- Physical Examination: In this, the doctor checks the patient for the changes in the thyroid gland and question the patient regarding the risk factors of the disease. Excessive exposure to radiation and the family history of tumour are some of the major risk factors.
- Blood Tests: These tests are done in order to determine the proper functioning of the Thyroid Gland.
- Biopsy: During the fine needle biopsy, the doctor inserts a long needle through the skin into the thyroid nodule. Ultrasound imaging is used in order to guide the needle through the gland. The doctor uses the needle in order to remove a sample of the affected gland and later this sample is analyzed into the laboratory for signs of tumour.
- Imaging Tests: Imaging Tests such as CT Scans or MRI Scans are done in order to check the gland for any signs of tumour.
- Genetic Testing: People suffering from Medullary Thyroid Cancer are checked for signs of genetic markers which can point towards the reason for the occurrence of the disease. The family history of the affected person could also be one of the contributing factors towards causing the disease.
Treatment and Drugs for Thyroid Cancer:
Most patients suffering from Thyroid Cancer go for the removal of the affected organ.
Thyroidectomy is a surgical procedure in which the entire thyroid gland is removed in order to treat the cancer. The surgeon makes an incision at the base of the organ and removes the organ.
A Thyroid Lobectomy is performed in order to remove the sections or the lobes of the thyroid gland which have been affected due to the cancer. When removing the gland, the doctors may also remove some of the affected lymph nodes from the neck in order to stop the multiplication of the tumour.
Bleeding and infection are the major side effects of surgery. Apart from that, damage to the parathyroid gland can also occur during the surgery.
Thyroid Hormone Therapy is a procedure in which the thyroid hormone medication known as Levothyroxine is prescribed to the patient for life. This medication supplies the missing hormone to the patient and also prevents the remaining cancer cells to grow any longer.
Radioactive Iodine is another treatment option which comes as a capsule or a liquid which can be swallowed by the patient. This treatment has a very low risk of harming other body cells. Some of the major side effects of this medication include nausea, dryness of the mouth, eyes and pain in the areas where the cancer cells have spread.
Chemotherapy is a drug treatment where the chemicals are used in order to kill the cancer cells. An infusion of the chemicals is given through the veins allowing the cells to be killed quickly.
Targeted Drug Therapy uses the medications in order to attack certain cells which are causing thyroid cancer. Medications such as Cabozantinib, Sorafenib and Vandetanib are best used in order to target the cancer cells, stopping them from dividing and growing anymore. This therapy is only used for people battling with advanced stages of thyroid cancer.