Thyroid cancer refers to the development of a malignant tumor on the thyroid gland, that mostly affects the people between the age group of 26 to 65. The following article provides information on the various types of thyroid cancer.
Thyroid gland is a butterfly-shaped, small glandular structure that is present underneath the larynx, at the base of the throat. This gland produces certain hormones that are important for proper metabolism, as well as the growth and functioning of various body organs. It has 2 main types of cells: follicular cells and C cells. The follicular cells help the body maintain the heart rate, the body temperature, and also the energy level, whereas the C cells help maintain the calcium level in the blood.
All organs in the body are made up of tissues, which in turn are made up of cells. When these cells divide in an abnormal and uncontrolled manner, they give rise to an abnormal, cancerous growth. These cancerous cells can spread to any region of the body, through the bloodstream or the lymphatic system. The abnormal cells that might develop in the thyroid region are referred to as thyroid nodules. However, 99% of the nodules that get developed are not carcinogenic.
Signs and Symptoms
Thyroid cancer might be asymptomatic in its initial stage. Some of the symptoms that might arise include:
- Pain in the throat and the neck
- Difficulty in breathing and talking
- Hypertrophic lymph nodes
- Hoarseness of voice, difficulty in normal speech
- Lasting cough without any sign of cold
- Symptoms of hyperthyroidism
- Symptoms of hypothyroidism
- Goiter (Benign enlargement of the thyroid gland)
- Infection of the thyroid gland and various such thyroid problems
Types of Thyroid Cancer
There are four major types of cancer that are classified on the basis of their location within the thyroid gland. Women are at a higher risk of this cancer.
The papillary tumors are formed in the cells that produce triiodothyronine or T3 (thyroid hormone that contains iodine). This type of cancer grows slowly, forging numerous small tumors in the shape of mushrooms. Papillary cancer mostly affects women in the age group of 30 – 40. This type of cancer can be cured, if it is diagnosed early.
This occurs in the triiodothyronine region among the women belonging to the age group of 50 and above. The tumors of follicular cancer have a thin tissue layer around them, which is referred to as a capsule. Follicular tumors are curable, if they have not infected the blood vessels and the adjoining structure of the neck.
More than 25% of the cases of this cancer are due to abnormal genes. These tumors grow slowly within the region of thyroxine or T4, and are very hard to control. This cancer has higher chances of spreading to the other parts of the body. The survival rate of the patients affected by this type of cancer is very low, because these tumors only be diagnosed at a very later stage.
Anaplastic thyroid tumors are the fastest growing among all the tumors. This type of cancer has a poor prognosis, with a 5-year survival rate of just 14%. Anaplastic cancer is very aggressive, and it mostly doesn’t respond to the cancer treatments.
Diagnosis and Treatment
The accurate diagnosis can be performed with the help of certain medical tests, such as a blood test named Thyroid Stimulating Hormone test (TSH blood test), fine needle aspiration cytology (FNAC), thyroid scan, and surgical biopsy of the dubious nodules.
There are certain basic treatment options that prove beneficial in case of cancer. These include chemotherapy, hormone therapy, radiation, and surgery. Whatever the availability of the curative measures and the hypothetical prognosis, it is always advisable to keep an eye on symptoms that might be indicative of a thyroid problem. The prognosis can be good, if diagnosed at an early stage.
Disclaimer: This HealthHearty article is for informative purposes only, and should not be used as a replacement for expert medical advice.