A butterfly-shaped gland located in the neck, the thyroid plays an important role in a person’s well-being. Like the pituitary gland, it is part of the endocrine system, which regulates specific body functions. The thyroid generates hormones that control the body’s heart rate, blood pressure, temperature and metabolism. Thyroid cancer develops when cells of the thyroid grow uncontrollably. Fortunately, most thyroid tumors are benign (non-cancerous).
Cancer of the thyroid is uncommon, accounting for about 1 percent of all cancers diagnosed. However, it has become the 8th most commonly diagnosed cancer in women. Fortunately for those with the disease, there’s hope. Early detection, accurate diagnosis, precise treatment and scheduled follow-up can result in a healthy future.
Types of thyroid cancer include:
- Papillary thyroid cancer
- Follicular thyroid cancer
- Medullary thyroid cancer
- Anaplastic thyroid cancer
In the early stages of thyroid cancer, no symptoms are present. As the cancer develops, symptoms may include:
- Lump in the front of the neck
- Voice changes or hoarseness
- Swollen lymph nodes
- Trouble breathing or swallowing
- Recurring or constant pain in the throat and/or neck
The above symptoms are often due to benign, non-cancerous conditions such as goiter or infection. However, due to their possible severity, it is recommended that anyone with these symptoms see a doctor to be diagnosed as soon as possible.