Thyroid Cancer: Symptoms, Causes & Treatment

Thyroid Cancer: Symptoms, Causes & Treatment
25 Aug 2022
6 mins
Table Of Content
Thyroid Cancer: Symptoms, Causes & Treatment

    Thyroid cancer is the 2nd leading cancer in pregnant women, and about ten percent of the thyroid cancer cases are seen in pregnant women. The good part is most thyroid cancers are slow-growing, highly treatable, with great cure rates. The thyroid is a gland located in the front of the neck, and the hormones produced by the thyroid help regulate body temperature, blood pressure, body weight, and heart rate. Let’s discuss thyroid cancer symptoms, causes, and treatment in detail.

    Why Does Thyroid Cancer Occur, What Is The Cause Of Thyroid Cancer?


    When cells in the thyroid gland develop changes (mutation) in the DNA (genetic material), it can instruct the cell to grow out of control in an abnormal manner and cause thyroid cancer. Cancer can grow and invade nearby tissues or distant organs. Often thyroid cancer does not spread to distant organs, and if spread, it mostly spreads to the lungs, brain, bones, skin, or liver. 


    Researchers are not sure why the mutation develops and leads to cancer but found certain risk factors that increase an individual’s chance of developing thyroid cancer. The risk factors include:


    • Gender: Women are two to three times more likely to develop thyroid cancer than men, and it is mostly seen in women between 40 and 50. The increased thyroid cancer cases seen in pregnant women might be due to the fluctuating hormones during the pregnancy. Thyroid cancer is mostly seen in men between 60 and 70.
    • Previous radiation therapy: Previous radiation therapy on the head and neck can increase the chance of getting thyroid cancer.
    • Genetic conditions: If you have inherited certain genetic conditions such as Familial medullary thyroid cancer, Cowden syndrome, familial adenomatous polyposis, and multiple endocrine neoplasia, it can increase your risk of developing thyroid cancer.
    • Inflammation in the thyroid (thyroiditis), obesity, and exposure to radiation released from nuclear power plants can also increase the risk of thyroid cancer.

    Thyroid Cancer Symptoms You Need To Know


    In the early stages, thyroid cancer generally does not show any signs or symptoms, but when cancer grows, symptoms may occur. A lump or swelling in the front of the neck is often the major symptom of thyroid cancer. If you have a neck lump, don’t get scared because only one in 20 neck lumps are due to thyroid cancer and others are due to less serious conditions. You need to visit the doctor immediately, especially if you have a lump that is firm or a lump that doesn’t move around the skin easily. The other symptoms that can occur are:


    • Pain in the neck
    • Difficulty in swallowing
    • Difficult in breathing
    • Unexplained hoarseness
    • Sore throat that does not get better
    • Rarely flushing or diarrhea can occur

    Thyroid Cancers Are Highly Treatable And Curable


    Most types of thyroid cancers are highly treatable with high cure rates. Thyroid cancer treatment options include surgery, radioactive iodine treatment, radiotherapy, hormone therapy, chemotherapy, targeted therapy, and alcohol ablation. 


    Based on the type and stage of cancer, patient’s overall health, and preferences, a health care professional determines the treatment type. If the cancer is very small, slow-growing, and localized, it may not need immediate treatment, and a physician may suggest active surveillance. The patient needs to undergo periodical diagnostic tests to monitor cancer in active surveillance. In such cases, many patients may never need treatment. 


    • Surgery: It is often the main  thyroid cancer treatment. Physicians may remove the part of the thyroid or entire thyroid gland based on how bigger the cancer is. In the case of pregnant women, a doctor may recommend delaying the treatment till the delivery based on the severity and type of cancer.
    • Radioactive active iodine treatment: You will need to swallow the radioactive substance, which can destroy the remaining cancer cells after surgery is done.
    • Radiation therapy: When the radioactive iodine treatment is ineffective or not suitable, radiotherapy is preferred to kill the remaining cancer cells after surgery. In this therapy, a machine can deliver high-energy beams such as x-rays to the body to kill the cancer cells.
    • Hormone therapy: If the thyroid gland is entirely removed, the body cannot produce thyroid hormones. Hormonal therapy involves the intake of medications to replace essential hormones, and the patient needs to take it lifelong.
    • Chemotherapy and targeted therapy: Chemotherapy and targeted therapy are the treatment options in which medications help stop cancer growth. These therapies are preferred for patients with metastatic cancer (cancer has spread to other body parts).


    For most common thyroid cancer types, such as follicular and papillary cancer, the 5-year survival rate is almost 100% if they are localized. For cancers that have spread (metastatic), the 5-survival rate for papillary type is 80% and 63 percent for follicular type. It means the patients with metastatic follicular thyroid cancer are 63% as likely to live for 5 years after diagnosis as someone who doesn't have this disorder.

    Knowledge Is The Best Defense


    Often thyroid cancers are found through imaging tests done for other health conditions or by checking a doctor for neck lumps. There are no sure ways to prevent this cancer, but treatment works well for almost everyone. Knowing that you are diagnosed with thyroid cancer can be scary, but learning more about the cancer type, treatment options, and lifestyle approaches can help you cope better. 


    Written by
    GuruvigneshwariContent Writer
    AboutM.Pharmacy (Pharmacognosy)
    Tags :thyroid cancerthyroid cancer symptomscause of thyroid cancerthyroid cancer treatment