Many people can develop a lump in their thyroid glands. In the vast majority of cases it turns out to be benign and easily treatable. However there are about 20,000 new cases where the lump turns out to be cancerous and develops into thyroid cancer. This is a much more serious situation. However like most other cancers, the disease can be much more effectively treated if it is diagnosed in the earliest stages. So it’s important to pay close attention to some of the key thyroid cancer symptoms.
The thyroid gland is a butterfly shaped organ which produces hormones to help regulate the metabolism. Thyroid can occur in both and women but there are some important risk factors to be aware of. They include:
- Age. This disease is more common in people who are over 30 than children or adolescents
- Women tend to be affected by this disease much more so than men. As a matter of fact they are 2 to 3 time more likely to be affected by it than a man.
- Caucasians tend to be more at risk for developing thyroid cancer than African Americans
- Exposure to radiation such as receiving radiation treatments or nuclear fallout can increase the risk of developing this disease
- And family history can play an important role.
There are several types of thyroid cancer. The most common types respond very well to treatment and can usually be cured if detected in the early stages of development. Other types which are not as common tend to exhibit a rapid growth rate and do not respond as well to available treatments.
The difficulty with detecting early stages of the thyroid cancer is that there tends to be no symptoms. As the cancer grows, it may create a small lump or nodule in the neck. As indicated earlier, the vast majority of these lumps or nodules are benign. But in about one percent of the cases it turns out to malignant (cancerous). So if you experience the presence of this type of lump, get it checked out immediately.
Other symptoms can include the following:
- A problem with swallowing. A growing tumor in the thyroid can affect the normal swallowing response
- The voice may become hoarse. This is especially true if the cancer becomes more widespread and affects other nearby organs like the voice box.
- The lymph nodes in the neck may become enlarged and tender
- A person may have difficulty in breathing
- And there may be pain experienced in the throat or neck area
If any of these symptoms arise, they should be checked into further. A doctor would first perform a physical exam. This would usually be followed by some type of imaging test along with a biopsy of the tissue from affected areas.
If a positive diagnosis is made, several treatment options may be employed. The specific type of treatment can depend on the type of cancer, stage of cancer and overall health of the patient. But as indicated earlier, this disease can be effectively treated if it is identified in the early stages.