Thyroid cancer is the malfunctioning of DNA in the thyroid gland, causing an overgrowth of cells. The thyroid gland is a butterfly-shaped gland that sits just below the Adam’s apple and covers the front of the windpipe. The thyroid gland produces thyroid gland hormone that regulates the body’s metabolism.
Thyroid Cancer symptoms
Thyroid Cancer often develops slowly and is not part of regular screening. A patient may exhibit one or more of the following symptoms:
- A lump in the neck or throat that may get bigger over time
- Difficulty breathing or swallowing
- Swollen lymph glands in the neck
- A hoarse voice
An ultrasound will detect if there are any nodules, and also their number and their condition (hard or fluid-filled). A fine needle aspiration biopsy will remove cells from the nodules to test for cancerous cells. A blood test will detect high or low levels of thyroid gland hormone and electrolytes (calcium).
Individuals are considered at high-risk if a family member has had thyroid cancer and there are some genetic tests available to see if a patient has a higher risk of developing a this type of cancer in their lifetime.
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Causes of Thyroid Cancer
Thyroid cancer is linked to certain genetic conditions but the exact cause is unknown. People predisposed to thyroid cancer have a family history of various subtypes of thyroid cancer. These types of cancer cases have increased where there has been exposure to radiation either from radiation therapy or nuclear radiation exposure.
Thyroid Cancer Figures
Australian women over 30-years old are at higher risk of developing thyroid cancer but survival rate is at 97%. Of all the cancers, this cancer has the highest five year survival rate.
The four types of thyroid cancer:
- Papillary and/or mixed papillary/follicular thyroid cancer accounts for 70- 80% of cases in Australia
- Follicular and/or Hurthle cell thyroid cancer accounts for 20% of cases
- Medullary thyroid cancer: ~ 3%
- Anaplastic thyroid cancer: ~ 2%
To learn more about how thyroid surgery can help, contact us for a consult on (08) 9386 2634.