Thyroid cancer occurs when abnormal cells begin to grow in your thyroid gland. These cells form small lumps called nodules or tumors. Thyroid cancer can cause several signs and symptoms including: hoarseness, difficulty swallowing, trouble breathing, lump or swelling in your neck, and persistent diarrhea.

Risk Factors

  • Radiation treatment or radiation exposure
  • Female
  • Asian
  • Personal or family history of thyroid disease or thyroid cancer
  • Breast cancer
  • Inherited medical conditions such as Gardner’s syndrome and familial polyposis.

Diagnosis

After a thyroid nodule is found during a physical exam, an ultrasound is performed to confirm the presence of the nodule and assess the status of the whole gland. If it is determined that the lump or nodule could be cancerous a biopsy of the gland may be performed to check for cancer cells. A biopsy is a simple procedure in which a small piece of the thyroid tissue is removed, usually by a needle or an excisional biopsy may be performed as well.

Treatment Options

Treatment options depend on your age, the type of thyroid cancer, and the stage of the disease. The stages refer to how severe the disease is and how far the cancer has spread. The different treatment options include:

  • Radioiodine therapy
  • External radiation therapy
  • Chemotherapy
  • Surgery to remove part or all of the thyroid gland
  • Thyroidectomy is an operation that involves the surgical removal of all or part of the thyroid gland.

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