Thyroid cancer is a nodule or a tumor on the thyroid which is malignant. There are several causes of thyroid cancer, chronic goiter or the swelling of the thyroid resulting to anterior mass development in the neck and family history, to name a few. Studies also showed that people who have undergone radiation therapy from the neck and up have a high risk of developing thyroid cancer. Other factors such as age, gender and even race are said to increase the risk of having thyroid cancer. It is most likely to happen to people who are in between the ages of 25 and 65. Statistics also show that women are most likely to get thyroid cancer than men. Lastly, Asians are more prone to thyroid cancer.
There are several types of the thyroid cancer. The first one is papillary thyroid carcinoma and it accounts for 75 to 85 percent of all thyroid cancer cases, thus making it the most common type. Although it is the most common, it is the least most dangerous thyroid cancer type and when detected early has a high cure rate. Cure rates are estimated to be at 80-90 percent. This thyroid cancer type usually develops in women who are of childbearing age or ages between 30-40 years old. Papillary thyroid carcinoma begins and develops in the follicular cells and develop gradually and can metastasize to the lymph nodes in the neck.
The second type is is called medullary thyroid cancer. This type of thyroid cancer accounts for 5-8 percent of the cases. It is the third-most common of thyroid cancers and presents a survival rate of 90 percent when it has not yet metastasized, 70 percent when it reaches the cervical lymph nodes or the lymph nodes in the neck. 20 percent when it has already metastasized in other areas of the body. It starts in parafollicular cell or C cells. The C cells are the ones that produce calcitonin and does not work the same way on metabolism as the hormones produced by the thyroid. This is usual in individuals who has a family history. In some studies, medullary thyroid cancer has been linked to genetic mutations and it requires a different approach in treatment compared to other thyroid cancers.
Anaplastic thyroid cancer is the third type and it is said to be the least common. It accounts for 0.5-1.5 percent in all thyroid cancer cases. Anaplastic thyroid cancer has cure rate of only 10 percent, even with sophisticated treatments available. It starts from the follicular cells in the thyroid and the cancer cells are highly abnormal, making it hard to recognize. It develops gradually but is also described to have an aggressive behavior. 90 percent of the time of diagnosis, the Anaplastic thyroid cancer has already metastasized in the cervical lymph nodes in the neck. What makes it different from the other types of thyroid cancers is its resistance to cancer treatments.
The fourth type of thyroid cancer is Follicular thyroid cancer and accounts to almost 15 percent of cases. It is the second-most common type of thyroid cancer. Compared to papillary thyroid cancer, it is more aggressive. Follicular thyroid cancer is common in people, mostly men who are in the ages of 50 and above. There is a high cure rate for this when early detection is made. It starts and gradually develops in the follicular cells. Follicular thyroid cancer can spread via the body’s blood vessels and reach the lungs, bones , brain, liver, bladder and other tissues.
With all these types of thyroid cancers, it is important to take note of the symptoms that come with developing thyroid cancer. Symptoms may vary depending on the type of thyroid cancer; however, what we have here are the common ones among the types. These are swollen thyroid, cough, strain in swallowing, hoarseness of voice, changing of voice, swollen neck and nodules. When an individual has these symptoms, doctors will usually perform a series of tests. These tests are thyroid scan,Laryngoscopy, thyroid ultrasound, thyroid biopsy, Calcitonin blood test, Thyraglobulin test and may include other tests for T3, T4 and TSH levels.
In treating thyroid cancer, medical surgery may be needed. Any of Thyroidectomy, Lobectomy or Tracheostomy may be performed. Radiation therapy is also used for treatment, from external or x-ray radiation to radioactive iodine-131. In cases where the thyroid cancer does not respond to any of these, chemotherapy may also be used. Hormone intake is also advised after treatment. This is in replacement of the lost hormones that were used to be produced and supplied by the thyroid. Along with all these, a strong support group will also make a difference for the patient.