Thyroid Cancer: When should one seek medical advice?
Prognosis of thyroid cancer is favorable; in most patients this cancer is highly curable. Studies have shown that the 5 year survival rates of the most common types of thyroid cancer (papillary and follicular cancers) is about 100% for stage I cancer, which decreases to 50% in people with metastatic disease (stage IV cancer). As most people tend to have non-specific and benign symptoms in the initial stages of the disease, other patients tend to ignore the symptoms.
Consult your doctor if you have any/all of the following symptoms suggestive of some type of significant thyroid problem:
- Lump or nodule in front of the neck: This is usually the most common symptom of thyroid problem. Most lumps or nodules grow slowly, but sometimes, the lump or nodule may increase in size rapidly.
- Change of voice, including hoarseness or difficulty in speaking.
- Difficulty swallowing or choking feeling.
- Pain in your neck and throat.
- Swollen lymph nodes in the neck.
These are some symptoms suggestive of thyroid problem, but they are not definite signs of thyroid cancer. Similar symptoms can be caused in other problems such as infection, goiter (benign enlargement of thyroid). Your doctor can diagnose the cause of your symptoms and thereby, treat the problem.
Symptoms that need urgent consultation
- Unexplained hoarseness or change of voice if you have a swelling in the thyroid region.
- Lump or thyroid nodule as a child.
- Enlarged cervical lymph nodes in a patient with a thyroid lump.
- Rapidly increasing painless thyroid mass (over a period of weeks).
Who to Consult
If you have any problem suggestive of thyroid disease, consult a health professional. Health professionals who can be consulted include:
- Family physicians.
- Clinical oncologist.
- Assistants of physicians.
- Nurse practitioners.
Source: Expert Content Dec 09, 2011
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