Your thyroid is a butterfly shape gland located at the base of your neck. The purpose of the thyroid is to produce hormones that regulate your weight, your body temperature, and your heart rate.
Although thyroid cancer is not the most common type of cancer in the United States, over the years, the rates have been increasing. The reason for this is because doctors use new technology that helps them catch thyroid cancer in the early stages. This technology wasn’t available before, therefore, it was not picked up in the past. The new technology helps doctors detect thyroid cancer early on, increasing the patients’ chances of survival.
Who Is At Risk For Thyroid Cancer?
The cause of thyroid cancer is unknown. While the causes are not clear, there a few risk factors that can put you at risk of developing thyroid cancer.
- Exposure to radiation: If a person has been in contact with radiation, they are at risk of developing thyroid cancer. For example, if a person has undergone radiation treatment either as an adult or as a child, they are at risk. If a person works at a nuclear power plant, if they work doing weapons testing, or if there was an accident at a power plant, they could be at great risk.
- Being a Female: If you are a woman, you are more at risk of developing thyroid cancer than a man. Thyroid cancer is twice as common in women than men.
- Inherited genetic syndromes: If a person has a family history of medullary thyroid cancer or multiple endocrine neoplasia, they are at risk of developing thyroid cancer.
Symptoms of Thyroid Cancer
There are various symptoms of thyroid cancer that a person should look for, especially if they have any of the thyroid cancer risk factors.
- A lump in the neck: If you discover a lump in your neck, you should see a doctor. In some cases, the lump will grow rapidly.
- Neck swelling: If you have noticed swelling in your neck and you were not injured, you should see a doctor.
- Pain in the neck: Pain is a common symptom of thyroid cancer. The pain typically radiates in the front of the neck. In some cases, it can travel up to your ears.
- Voice changes: If your voice changes or becomes hoarse and it doesn’t go away, it is a common symptom of thyroid cancer and it warrants a visit to the doctor.
- A constant cough: If you are suffering from a constant cough that is not associated with a cold, you should make an appointment to see a doctor.
- Trouble swallowing: Trouble swallowing is a common symptom in the later stages of thyroid cancer.
- Difficulty breathing: Wheezing and trouble breathing are two symptoms that can occur in the later stages of thyroid cancer.
It is important to understand that each of these symptoms could be symptoms of other medical conditions. If you are experiencing any of the symptoms above, it is not a guarantee that you have cancer. You should, however, make an appointment so that your doctor can order the appropriate test to determine they causes of the symptoms.
Fortunately, if thyroid cancer is caught early, it can be treated. Despite treatment, it is possible for thyroid cancer to return even if the thyroid has been removed. This can happen if microscopic cancer cells spread beyond the thyroid before the thyroidectomy. Your best chance at beating the cancer is knowing what symptoms to look for and seeking treatment as quickly as possible.