Thyroid Cancer Links

Thyroid Cancer Links

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Thyroid Cancer

What is thyroid cancer?

Thyroid cancer is a disease that occurs when abnormal cells begin to grow in the thyroid gland, which is a butterfly-shaped gland that is located in the front of your neck. The thyroid gland makes hormones that regulate the way your body uses energy and help your body function normally.

Thyroid cancer is a rare type of cancer. Most people who have it do very well, because thyroid cancer is usually found early and treated effectively.

What causes thyroid cancer?

Experts do not know the exact cause of thyroid cancer. But they do know that people who have been exposed to a lot of radiatin either from the environment or from medical treatment have a greater chance of developing thyroid cancer. An occasional dental X-ray will not increase your risk of developing thyroid cancer. But past radiation treatment of your head, neck, or chest (especially during childhood) can increase your chances of developing thyroid cancer. Radiation was used from the 1920s to the 1950s to treat problems such as acne or enlarged tonsils, but it is no longer used to treat noncancerous conditions.

What are the symptoms?

Thyroid cancer can cause many symptoms, including:

  • A lump or swelling in your neck. This is the most common symptom.

  • Pain in your neck and sometimes in your ears.

  • Difficulty swallowing.

  • Difficulty breathing or constant wheezing.

  • Hoarseness that is not related to a cold.

  • A cough that continues and is not related to a cold.

  • Some people may not have any symptoms. Their doctors may find a lump or nodule in the neck during a routine physical exam.

    How is thyroid cancer diagnosed?

    If your doctor thinks that your lump or nodule may be cancerous, he or she will do a biopsy of your thyroid gland to check for cancer cells. A biopsy is a simple procedure in which a small piece of the thyroid tissue is removed, usually with a needle.

    Sometimes, the results of a biopsy are not clear. In this case, you may need surgery to remove all or part of your thyroid gland before you find out if you have thyroid cancer.

    Can thyroid cancer be prevented?

    You cannot prevent thyroid cancer.

    One rare type of thyroid cancer, which is called medul thyroid cancer (MTC), runs in families. You can find out if you have an increased risk for MTC by having a genetic test. If this test shows that you have an increased risk for MTC, you can have your thyroid gland removed to prevent developing thyroid cancer later in life.

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