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Understanding Thyroid Cancer


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Thyroid cancer is rare compared to other types but like all cancers, it can be life-threatening. Thyroid cancer usually occurs in the form of a lump. It can be impossible to tell if this lump is cancerous without a full analysis of a tissue sample.

There are four major types:

Papillary, which is usually an irregular, solid or cystic growth that arises from otherwise normal thyroid tissue. This type has a high cure rate.

Follicular, which is considered to be more aggressive and dangerous than papillary carcinoma. This type tend to appear in slightly older age groups. It sometimes spreads to the lungs, bones, brain, liver, bladder, and skin.

Medullary, which is the third most common type and accounts for 5-8 percent of cases.

Anaplastic, which is the least common but the most dangerous. It accounts for about 1 percent of cases but has a very low cure rate.

While thyroid cancer is considered to be a rare form of cancer, people who have had radiation treatment to the head and neck sometime in their life may be at greater risk, as are people who have had radiation treatment for acne.

Symptoms of Thyroid Cancer

How can you know if you have thyroid cancer? It can be difficult to know for certain unless you have tests but some symptoms include:

  • Difficulty breathing
  • Difficulty speaking
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Hoarseness
  • Lump in the neck near the Adam's apple
  • Neck nodule
  • Neck pain
  • Neck swelling
  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • Swollen neck lymph nodes
  • Throat pain
  • Voice changes

    If you notice these signs then you need to see your doctor right away to have your thyroid checked.

    If you have thyroid cancer, there will also be tests and evaluations done to determine what type it is and the best action for treating it. Treatment will vary but surgery is the most common option. There are also different types of surgery as treatment.

    In addition to surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy and thyroid hormone therapy may be recommended by your medical team.

    For more information on topics related to this article, click on Types of Thyroid Cancer .

    George McKenzie is a retired TV anchor, medical reporter and radio talk show host. He is a frequent contributor to Health Information Articles , a resource site about health and wellness.

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