Thyroids

Thyroid cancer is more common in people who have received radiation to the head, neck or chest. However, it can occur in people with no known risk factors. Most thyroid cancers can be cured with proper treatment. Thyroid cancer usually appears as nodules in the thyroid gland. Some signs that a nodule may be cancerous include:

  • The presence of a single node instead of multiple nodules
  • Thyroid scan reveals the nodule is not working
  • Nodule is solid rather than liquid filled (cyst)
  • Nodule is difficult
  • Nodule grows fast

What are the symptoms of thyroid cancer?

The first sign of a cancerous nodule in the thyroid gland is usually a painless lump in the neck.

Other symptoms may include:

  • Hoarseness or loss of voice as the cancer presses on the nerves of the larynx
  • Difficulty swallowing as the cancer presses on the throat
  • Throat or neck pain that does not go away
  • respiratory
  • A cough that does not go away

Four main forms of thyroid cancer

Papillary Thyroid Cancer

Papillary thyroid cancer is the most common type of thyroid cancer, accounting for about 80 percent of all cases. This form of thyroid cancer affects more women than men.

The papillary cancer treatment may include:

Surgery. This is done to remove part or all of the thyroid (thyroidectomy) and sometimes nearby lymph nodes
Thyroid hormone therapy. This is done to remove the pituitary gland over thyroid stimulating hormone, which may stimulate papillary cancer recurrence.
The administration of radioactive iodine. This is to destroy any remaining thyroid tissue.

Follicular Thyroid Cancer

Follicular thyroid cancer accounts for about 10 percent of cases of thyroid cancer. This type of thyroid cancer is more aggressive and tends to spread through the bloodstream to other parts of the body. However, the prognosis is very good in most cases.

The follicular cancer treatment may include:

Surgery. This is done to remove the thyroid gland (thyroidectomy) and sometimes nearby lymph nodes.

Thyroid hormone therapy

The administration of radioactive iodine. This is to destroy any remaining thyroid tissue.

Anaplastic Thyroid Cancer

Anaplastic thyroid cancer tends to occur more often in women and accounts for about 2 percent of cases of thyroid cancer. This type of fast-growing cancer usually results in a large growth in the neck. Often it has spread to other parts of the body by the time it has been found and it is very difficult to treat effectively.

Treatment for anaplastic thyroid cancer may include:

Surgery

This is done to remove the thyroid gland (thyroidectomy) if there is widespread, although this is rare.

  • Chemotherapy (eg, anti-cancer drugs)
  • Radiotherapy
  • Medullary thyroid cancer
  • Medullary thyroid cancer

It accounts for about 4 percent of thyroid cancers. It tends to spread through the lymphatic system (consisting of a system of vessels that connect the lymph nodes throughout the body) and the bloodstream to other parts of the body. This cancer produces excessive amounts of calcitonin, a hormone also produced by the thyroid gland itself.

The treatment for medullary thyroid cancer may include:

Surgery : This is done to remove the thyroid gland (thyroidectomy) and sometimes nearby lymph nodes.
Radiotherapy
Targeted therapy drugs such as vandetanib
Additional surgery or other treatments may be needed if the cancer has spread.
Since medullary cancer tends to occur in families, screening of genetic abnormalities in blood cells can be performed.