Thyroid cancer starts from the thyroid gland, which is positioned inside the front portion of lower neck. This cancer form affects any individual irrespective of the age group, but individuals who have had radiation therapy of the neck are at higher risk. In thyroid cancer, the tumour gets manifested in the thyroid gland, which is either benign or malignant. Owing to abnormal growth of cells due to tumour, normal tissues are affected.
The most common type of thyroid cancer is derived from the thyroid follicular cells that are responsible for thyroid hormone production. Papillary thyroid cancer, follicular thyroid cancer, medullary thyroid cancer and anaplastic thyroid cancer are the different kinds of thyroid cancer.
1. Papillary Thyroid Cancer: The thyroid cancer type is classified on the basis of its appearance under the microscope. Papillary thyroid cancer is confirmed as an irregular, solid or cystic mass that arises from the normal thyroid tissue. It has an exceptional curing rate of 80% to 90% along with a survival 10-year survival rate for all patients.
2. Follicular Thyroid Cancer: The cancerous cells are almost identical to normal thyroid cells on a biopsy, but can be identified owing to uncontrollable spread to adjacent portions and rest of the body.
3. Medullary Thyroid Cancer: Medullary thyroid cancer is characterised by parafollicular C cells of the thyroid. In some patients, the disease occurs as a result of familial genetic predisposition. These are more aggressive in comparison with other kinds of thyroid cancer as it spreads to lymph nodes and the outside of the neck in a short span of time.
4. Anaplastic Thyroid Cancer: It is the lesser known type of thyroid cancer, which affects the elderly.
Lymphomas and metastases are also associated with thyroid cancer at times.
Thyroid Cancer Facts
• Signs and symptoms of every kind of thyroid cancer are different. The common indicators of thyroid cancer are cough, swallowing difficulties, thyroid gland enlargement, hoarseness or voice change, neck swelling and thyroid nodule.
• The examination of thyroid may reveal a lump (nodule). Thereafter, a health care provider will conduct calcitonin blood test (for medullary cancer), thyroglobulin blood test (for papillary or follicular cancer), laryngoscopy, thyroid biopsy, thyroid scan and thyroid ultrasound to confirm it.
• Treatment of thyroid cancer also depends on its type. Surgery may be done to remove affected thyroid gland if there is a chance that cancer has spread to lymph nodes in the neck. On the other hand, radiation therapy is performed to kill cancerous cells with an external beam (x-ray).
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