Thyroid cancer is a relatively common cancer, with tens of thousands of people worldwide being diagnosed with it every year. However, many people do not understand what it is, how to spot it, and how it can be treated. This short guide explains some of the details about thyroid cancer, as well as what you should be looking out for and what treatments you can expect.
Thyroid Cancer Explained
The term 'thyroid cancer' refers to all types of cancer of the thyroid, which is a small endocrine gland located in the neck that helps in the regulation and production of hormones. Cancer Council NSW explains that thyroid cancer is more commonly diagnosed in women and is the seventh most common cancer to affect Australian women.
There are three types of thyroid cancer, but the most common is papillary thyroid cancer, which accounts for around four in every five cases. There is no consensus on what causes it, and it doesn't seem to be related to any lifestyle choice. Generally, thyroid cancer has a high remission rate, but it is still important to catch it as early as possible, by looking out for the symptoms described below.
Symptoms Of Thyroid Cancer
As WebMD explains, you are unlikely to have any symptoms at first, but after your cancer has grown a little, you are likely to experience some throat-related symptoms. You may experience neck pain, and some people with thyroid cancer feel that their voice has changed or become more hoarse. You might be able to feel a physical lump or swollen glands, and a minority of people develop a cough. If you are worried about your throat, speak to your GP, and they will be able to perform diagnostic tests, including a biopsy of any lumps in your throat, and give you a solid diagnosis.
Treatment For Thyroid Cancer
Receiving a diagnosis of thyroid cancer can be a scary experience, but there are many treatments available. As the NHS describes, papillary thyroid cancer can be controlled with a thyroidectomy, a surgery in which all or part of your thyroid is removed, and then a radioactive iodine treatment. Other types of thyroid cancer, or later stages of cancer, may require more traditional cancer treatments such as radiotherapy or chemotherapy. If your thyroid is removed, you may need to take hormone medication - speak to your GP about this. The best treatment for you will depend on the stage and size of your cancer, and a cancer specialist will be able to provide recommendations that are personal to you.
Being diagnosed with cancer is always worrying, but thyroid cancer is typically treatable, with a range of options available. If you are at all worried about throat symptoms or any aspect of your health, speak to your GP, who will investigate your concerns and give you more information.