If you have a lump in your neck, it could be thyroid cancer
Thyroid is a small gland located at the base of the neck, just above the Adam’s apple. It produces hormones that help in the regulation of heart rate, blood pressure, body temperature and weight. When identified in the early stages, thyroid cancer is completely curable.
Like others forms of cancer, thyroid cancer is caused primarily when the cells undergo genetic mutations resulting in cells to multiply rapidly. The abnormal cell growth leads to formation of a tumor which may be benign (not cancerous), pre-malignant (pre-cancerous), or malignant (cancerous).
The symptoms of thyroid cancer include, lump on the neck, voice changes, difficulty to swallow, painful neck and throat, and swollen lymph nodes. The doctor looks for these symptoms, before prescribing tests to determine the thyroid lump as benign or cancerous.
RISKS AND COMPLICATIONS
It is found that, women are more prone to thyroid problems especially cancer, than men. Some of the predominant risks that cause thyroid cancer are exposure to high levels of radiation, and certain inherited genetic syndromes.
The complications of thyroid cancer are seen as its recurrence even after the surgery. Thyroid cancer may recur in the first five years after surgery. This condition occurs due to spread of cancer from thyroid cells to lymph nodes of the neck, or small pieces of thyroid tissue left after surgery.
In the post-surgical phase of thyroid cancer, the doctor may recommend for continuous blood tests, and thyroid scans. This will help the doctor to check the recurrence of thyroid cancer.
TESTS AND DIAGNOSIS
On visit to the doctor, the tests begin with physical examination of the neck for possible changes likewise lumps, swelling and conditions of throat pain, difficulty to swallow, hoarse voice and discomfort in the neck.
Further, the doctor advises for a blood test, to determine the functioning of the thyroid gland. A sample tissue is also extracted from the thyroid gland and sent to the lab for further tests.
Imaging tests like CT scan and ultrasound are also suggested to determine the occurrence of thyroid cancer. Genetic testing may also be advised to confirm the occurrence of thyroid cancer in the family.
TREATMENTS AND DRUGS
There are five types of thyroid cancer ÛÒ Papillary thyroid cancer, follicular thyroid cancer, medullary thyroid cancer, anaplastic thyroid cancer and Thyroid lymphoma. The treatment depends on the type of thyroid cancer.
Once thyroid cancer is detected, the doctor recommends for surgery, where all or most of the thyroid (thyroidectomy) is removed. However, it is ensured that the parathyroid glands are protected from any damage.
In cases where the thyroid cancer is very small, only a portion of the thyroid or one side (lobe) is removed by surgery. During the thyroid surgery, the surgeon may extract few tissues from the adjacent lymph nodes, and send them for cancer check.
Different treatments are also recommended for thyroid cancer. These include Hormone therapy, Radioactive iodine therapy, External radiation therapy, Chemotherapy, and Targeted drug therapy.
Read more about thyroid problems, symptoms, causes and treatment.