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Cancer of the Thyroid
September 18, 2022

What is Thyroid Cancer?

Thyroid cancer occurs when cells grow in the thyroid. The thyroid is a butterfly-shaped gland located in the neck part of the body. The thyroid produces hormones that regulate heart rate, blood pressure, body temperature and weight.

You wouldn’t notice a thyroid cancer growing because it might not cause any symptoms at first. But as it progresses, it can cause signs and symptoms like swelling in the neck, changes in voice and difficulty in swallowing.

Most types of thyroid cancer grow slowly, but in some cases it can be very aggressive but the good thing is that it can be cured with treatment.

Causes & Symptoms

There is no clear reason why most people get this type of cancer, but there are certain things that can raise your chances of getting it.

Hereditary. Some conditions, including cancer, come from the DNA you get from your parents. In 2 out of 10 cases of medullary thyroid cancer, for example, the cancer is a result of an abnormal gene you’ve inherited.

Iodine deficiency. If you don’t get much of this chemical element in your diet, you could be at more risk for certain types of thyroid cancer.

Radiation exposure. If your head or neck was exposed to radiation treatment as a child.

Thyroid cancer is more common in women than in men. Experts think it may be related to the hormone estrogen. People who are assigned female sex at birth generally have higher levels of estrogen in their bodies.

Most cases of thyroid cancer don’t cause any signs or symptoms in the early stages of the disease, but as it grows, it may cause:

  • A lump in the neck
  • Changes in voice
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Swollen lymph nodes in neck
  • Pain in neck and throat

Treatment and Prevention

Thyroid cancer is usually very treatable, even if you have a more advanced stage of it. That’s because there are effective treatments that give you a great chance for a full recovery. And surgery, when it’s needed, can sometimes cure it.

Even doctors cannot find the cause of the gene changes that lead to thyroid cancers, so it is hard to find a way to prevent it in people who have a risk of developing it.

Prevention for high risk people with an inherited gene that increases chances of medullary thyroid may consider getting a thyroid surgery to prevent cancer. Discuss your options with a genetic counselor who can explain your risk of thyroid cancer and your treatment options.

Prevention for people near nuclear power plants may consider taking medication that blocks the effects of radiation in the thyroid. The medication (potassium iodide) could be used in the unlikely event of a nuclear reactor accident. If you live within 10 miles of a nuclear power plant and are concerned about safety precautions, contact your state or local emergency management department for more information.

What Else?

Important Reminder: Any type of food supplement is not a medicine and cannot be used as a medicine for any type of disease.

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