Cancer » Thyroid Cancer
Thyroid cancer is one of the important kinds of cancer because it develops in one of the most vital glands of the human body; the thyroid gland. The cancerous tumors develop mainly in the thyroid gland and may spread to other areas in due course. The disease is more common in women as compared to men and can be fatal if not diagnosed in time. The cancer may develop at any age but is more common in the age group of 25-65 years of age. The cancer is quite uncommon worldwide but is 8th major type of cancer detected in women.
Understanding thyroid cancer
Cancer of the thyroid can be destructive if not treated in time. Regular health checkup is mandatory for those suffering from an advanced stage of the disease. Thyroid is an important gland of the body as it performs the lead role in enabling the body to make optimum use of the available energy and helps it to work normally. Cancerous development in the thyroid gland may lead to uneven distribution of energy to different organs of the body. Thus, the co-ordination between various organs of the body may loose the rhythm and hamper the normal body movement.
Thyroid cancer can be detected by undergoing various diagnosis methods like biopsy, computed tomography (CT) scan and X-rays. Other techniques like the magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan and ultrasound are also beneficial to detect tumors. The cancer of the thyroid can be of four main types as- papillary, anaplastic, medullary and follicular. Papillary is the most general type of cancer in the thyroid gland and primarily affects the women. It is least dangerous of all the types and spreads gradually to different areas of the body. Anaplastic, also known as spindle cell cancer, is a rare but extremely dangerous type. It metastasizes rapidly and is highly immune to radiotherapy. Follicular type of cancer is comparatively a common type and shows high chances of recurrence. Medullary type usually develops in the non-thyroid cells present in the thyroid gland and requires a unique line of treatment.
Thyroid gland is located in the lower areas of the neck. The cancerous cells infect the thyroid cells present in the body and replace them by the malignant or tumor cells. These malignant cells also invade the healthy tissues and obstruct their performance. Invasion by cancerous cells disturbs the overall mechanism of cell growth and prevents the live cells from functioning normally. Lack of resources and inefficient functioning of tissues forces the healthy cells to behave abnormally. These cells start dividing and growing abnormally and the number of unnecessary cells in the body suddenly increases. Also, the old and normal cells are unable to die naturally.
Excess number of abnormal and unnecessary cells leads to a formation of lump in the infected area. This lump is commonly known as tumor. Benign and cancerous are the two main types of tumors. Cancerous tumors are very dangerous as they kill vital tissues and cells and also infect other parts of the body. They use lymph nodes and bloodstream as the main medium to travel to other organs. They metastasize rapidly and show high possibilities of recurrence. Hence, it is quite difficult to eliminate them.
Fortunately, benign tumors are quite common in the cases of cancer of the thyroid detected worldwide. These tumors do not derail the normal cell growth and rarely indulge in damaging or killing tissues and cells. Hence, the tumors formed exhibit a rare possibility to metastasize and are easy to eliminate. Their chance of redevelopment is very less and can be removed safely by surgery. You must pay serious attention even to the benign tumors as they may turn cancerous if not eliminated in time.
Precautions and indications
Thyroid cancer is more common in a person who has previously undergone radiotherapy for the neck or adjacent areas. Children treated with radiation in the past must undergo a regular medical examination for early detection and diagnosis of tumors. In a few cases, the cancer may also be hereditary. Family history of the cancer of thyroid is a major cause of the disease. Smoking and tobacco consumption are an indirect cause of the disease as they indulge in damaging tissues to a considerable extent. Excess consumption of alcohol must be avoided. Any unusual formation of lump in the neck or adjacent areas can be diagnosed using advanced examination techniques like the endoscopy. This will help the in selecting the most appropriate line of treatment from the various available treatments like chemical therapy, surgery and radiotherapy. Surgery is the most common form of treatment recommended if the tumor is benign and has not spread to various organs.
Strong immune system is very important to resist the cancerous cells from developing. Weak immune system finds it difficult to oppose the malignant cells from infecting the live and healthy cells and thus, provides an environment conducive for the tumor cells to develop without any opposition. Physical fitness and balanced diet can be very advantageous in keeping your immune system intact.
Swelling or formation of lump in the neck is one of the earliest symptoms of cancer of the thyroid. Some may also experience unusual change in their voice and pains in the neck area while speaking. Troubles in swallowing food need urgent diagnosis as it may be the initial stage of the development of tumors. Frequent cough and pain in the ears are also some of the indirect symptoms of the abnormal behavior of cells in the neck area. Change in size of the thyroid gland need urgent attention as it may be an indication of the presence of tumor.
Thyroid cancer is curable as the tumors formed are mostly non-cancerous or benign. The victims suffering from cancerous tumors need to undergo an intensive treatment of chemicals or radiations. One needs to be careful while selecting the pattern of treatment as most of the treatments are intense and come with a considerable number of side effects.