When a malignant tumor is formed in the tissue of the thyroid gland, thyroid cancer occurs. Depending on the type of cells the cancer appears from and specific characteristics of tumors, doctors distinguish thyroid cancer types (follicular thyroid cancer, medullary thyroid cancer, etc), as the type of cancer determines treatment. Thyroid cancer diagnosis usually includes a physical exam, blood tests and scans to discover the malignancy and rule out some other conditions. Below we are going to discuss this condition, its symptoms, types and thyroid cancer diagnosis in more detail.
Your thyroid is a butterfly shaped gland that is located at the base of your neck.
Thyroid cancer occurs when the cells in the thyroid turns cancerous. Treatment for thyroid cancer varies depending on the type of thyroid cancer.
THYROID CANCER TYPES
- Follicular thyroid cancer: This is a more aggressive but less common type of thyroid cancer that comes from follicular cells
- Papillary thyroid cancer: This is the most common type of thyroid cancer that comes from follicular cells
- Medullary thyroid cancer: This is a strand of thyroid cancer that comes from the cells in the thyroid gland called C cells. These cells produce a hormone called calcitonin
SYMPTOMS OF THYROID CANCER
Normally, there are no signs and symptoms in the early stages of thyroid cancer. However as it progresses, the signs and symptoms include:
- Presence of a lump that can be felt on the neck
- Voice changes
- Difficulty swallowing
- Pain in the neck and throat
- Swollen lymph nodes in the neck
TREATMENT OPTIONS AVAILABLE FOR THYROID CANCER
Treatment options to remove the cancer include:
- Thyroidectomy: The thyroid gland is removed from an incision made in the base of the neck. In most cases, the surgeon will leave small bits of thyroid tissue around the parathyroid glands to reduce the risk of its damage.
- Thyroid hormone therapy: The thyroid hormone levels are required to be checked through regular blood tests on a yearly basis.
THYROID CANCER DIAGNOSIS
The tests to diagnose thyroid cancer are:
- Physical exam: Your doctor will look for any changes in your thyroid and you will be asked questions based on your medical history.
- Blood tests: This is to check your thyroid’s level of function.
- Image testing: To check if your thyroid cancer has spread to other parts of your body. These tests include CT scans, PET scans or ultrasounds.
- Biopsy (FNA):In order to test the nodule for the signs of malignancy, doctor may prescribe a fine-needle biopsy, a procedure, during which a doctor inserts a long, thin needle through the skin and into the thyroid nodule. An ultrasound imaging is usually used to guide the needle. The doctor takes the samples of suspicious thyroid tissue with the help of a needle. These samples are then further analysed in the laboratory to look for cancer cells.