The thyroid gland is small in comparison to other organs of the body, but it is still very important. It is responsible for helping to regulate the bodyís metabolism and heart rate. Yet, for whatever reason, sometimes the thyroid will develop nodules, which are benign tumors containing a lot of fluid. For many people these nodules will not cause any harm. However, for others the growths may become malignant, resulting in a condition known as thyroid cancer. When thyroid cancer develops, the unhealthy cells attack the thyroid and, (in the case of extreme metastasizing), possibly even other parts of the body.
There are several types of thyroid cancer that exist. The most common type of thyroid cancer is known as papillary. With this type of thyroid cancer, tumors develop in the follicle cells of the thyroid gland. These are the cells that are responsible for producing hormones that regulate various metabolic functions of the body. Anyway, the general progression of papillary thyroid cancer is very slow, though it can metastasize into the lymph nodes relatively early. Either way, as long as the tumors associated with papillary thyroid cancer havenít grown too large and/or infiltrated just a small portion of the lymph nodes, the prognosis is very positive.
The next type of thyroid cancer is known as follicular. As the namesake indicates, follicular thyroid cancer develops in the thyroidís follicle cells, just like papillary cancer. However, it is a lot more dangerous since instead of metastasizing in the lymph nodes, it can metastasize in the thyroidís arteries and veins. The disease can even spread into other organs not in the same area as the thyroid, such as in the bones or the lungs.
Finally there is medullary thyroid cancer. With medullary thyroid cancer, the tumors develop in the thyroidís C-cells. These are cells that produce calcitonin, a special hormone that controls how much calcium the body distributes in the blood. Oddly enough the tumors associated with medullary thyroid cancer still produce the calcitonin. However, they also produce CEA, (which stands for carcinoembryonic antigen). This is a protein by-product that is created from cancer cells. In fact, it is the CEA that would allow doctors to be able to know officially if a person does indeed have medullary thyroid cancer. Yet, by this point the cancer has already spread to other parts of the body, despite not being as big in its earlier stages.
The symptoms for any type of thyroid cancer are the same all across the board. Basically, a person will have a lump in their neck along with swollen lymph nodes. They may also have pain in the same area and have difficulty breathing. Of course, each of these symptoms could be indicative of a benign nodule growth discussed earlier in this article. However, there is no way a person will be able to know for sure unless they go to the doctor. If there is fear associated with doing such things, they need to remember an important fact: thyroid cancer is highly treatable, even in some of the more serious stages. This is not to say there arenít thyroid cancer deaths, but in comparison to other cancers, having thyroid cancer doesnít automatically mean a person will be doomed to live just a few weeks or months.
Thyroid Cancer Treatments
Treatments for thyroid cancer are good, if you notice the symptoms early and seek treatments from a doctor you have a 95% chance of living which is the best survival rate for any cancer. Your doctor will decide which treatment they think is best however this may include surgical intervention, Radioiodine therapy and chemotherapy.
Do I Have Thyroid Cancer?
If you think you have thyroid cancer then you should look out for the following symptoms, if you have any of these symptoms you should seek medical advice. Thyroid cancer doesnít change you physical appearance however you may develop bumps in your neck, have difficulty breathing and physiological problems are also common.