Thyroid cancer is a disease in which malignant T-cells are found in tissues of the thyroid gland. Your thyroid gland is a butterfly-shaped in your neck, at the base of your throat near your trachea (windpipe). It has two lobes, a left and right. A healthy thyroid is a bit larger than a quarter. It usually cannot be felt through the skin.
The thyroid uses iodine, a mineral found in some foods and in iodized salt, to help make several hormones. These hormones control heart rate, body temperature, and how quickly food is changed into energy (metabolism). They also control the amount of calcium in your blood.
Signs & Symptoms
Thyroid cancer may not cause early symptoms. It is sometimes found during a routine physical exam. Symptoms may occur as the tumor gets bigger. Other conditions may cause the same symptoms. Check with your doctor if you have any of the following problems:
- A lump or module in the neck, especially in the front of the neck in the area of the Adam’s apple (sometimes, the lump or nodule grows quickly)
- Enlargement of the neck
- Enlarged lymph nodes in the neck
- Hoarseness, difficulty speaking normally, or voice changes
- Difficulty swallowing, or a choking feeling
Your OHC doctor will help you determine the best care plan for you. Standard treatment options for thyroid cancer include:
- Surgery is the most common treatment and includes eithera lobectomy (removal of the lobe where cancer is found), near-total thyroidectomy (removal of all but a very small part of the thyroid), total thyroidectomy (removal of the whole thyroid), and lymphadenectomy (removal of the cancerous lymph nodes in the neck).
- Radiation therapy uses high-energy particles to kill cancer cells. This can be done outside the body (external beam radiation) or inside the body (brachytherapy). Radioactive iodine therapy is also used for certain types of thyroid cancer.
- Chemotherapy is the use of injected or oral drugs to kill cancer cells or stop them from dividing.
- Hormone therapy is a treatment, using drugs, that removes hormones or blocks their action and stops cancer cells from growing. Patients are also given thyroid hormone replacement pills.
- Targeted therapy uses drugs or other substances to identify and attack specific cancer cells without harming normal cells.