Thyroid Cancer Symptoms

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Thyroid Cancer Symptoms
Thyroid Cancer Symptoms

Video: Thyroid Cancer Symptoms

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Video: Thyroid Cancer - Know the signs 2023, January
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Thyroid Cancer: What Is It?

In contrast to benign nodes of the thyroid gland, malignant diseases rarely occur. Women are more often affected than men. The average age of onset is around fifty years.

The most common type of thyroid cancer is differentiated thyroid carcinoma. You can also learn more about possible symptoms.

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  • What types of thyroid cancer are there?
  • What are the causes of thyroid cancer?
  • What are the symptoms of thyroid cancer?
  • Are there any options for early detection of thyroid cancer?

What types of thyroid cancer are there?

There are several types of thyroid cancer:

  • Differentiated thyroid carcinomas: These start directly from the follicular epithelial cells (thyrocytes) that produce thyroid hormones and have a good prognosis. These include:

    • Papillary thyroid cancer: This is the most common and has an excellent chance of recovery.
    • Follicular thyroid carcinoma: This is the second most common occurrence and has a poorer chance of a cure compared to papillary thyroid carcinoma.
  • Medullary thyroid carcinoma: This is less common and is caused by the so-called C cells in the thyroid. C cells produce the hormone calcitonin, which intervenes in calcium metabolism. Medullary thyroid carcinomas show a prognosis between differentiated and undifferentiated thyroid carcinomas.
  • Undifferentiated (anaplastic) thyroid carcinomas: These originate from the follicular epithec cells (thyrocytes), grow quickly and have an unfavorable prognosis, but are rare.

Mixed forms of these carcinomas, lymphomas, teratomas (germ cell tumors) or fibrosarcomas (connective tissue tumors) of the thyroid gland are rare.

What are the causes of thyroid cancer?

Why thyroid cancer develops has not yet been scientifically clarified. However, there are proven risk factors. Radioactive iodine is considered a risk factor for differentiated and anaplastic thyroid carcinomas. One is exposed to this, for example, in the event of a reactor accident in a nuclear power plant or an atomic bomb explosion. Therapeutic radioiodine therapies for benign thyroid diseases do not play a role in the development - the dose is too low.

Medullary thyroid cancer can occur in families. In these cases, the so-called MEN-2 syndrome may also be present. In this case, in addition to the development of medullary thyroid carcinoma, mostly benign tumors of the adrenal medulla (pheochromocytoma) and the parathyroid glands occur. However, there are also other familial thyroid carcinomas or, in the case of thyroid tumors, there may be genetic changes (eg in follicular thyroid carcinoma).

What are the symptoms of thyroid cancer?

In the early stages of the disease, there is seldom any discomfort in the neck area.

The following (late) symptoms can occur:

  • Throat irritation,
  • palpable or visible lump on the neck,
  • enlarged cervical lymph nodes,
  • Globus feeling (feeling as if you had a lump in your throat),
  • Hoarseness,
  • Breathing problems
  • Difficulty swallowing.

The symptoms mentioned can also occur in other diseases and are therefore not directly indicative of thyroid cancer. The so-called Horner syndrome can also indicate thyroid cancer - but also other diseases. It is characterized by constriction of the pupils, drooping eyelids and a sunken eyeball. Medullary thyroid cancer can also cause facial flushing, diarrhea, and abdominal pain.

Are there any options for early detection of thyroid cancer?

By early detection of thyroid cancer, it is meant that the disease is discovered before it leads to symptoms. This includes paying attention to possible warning signals if you are already aware of an enlarged thyroid gland or a lump in the thyroid gland.

Warning signals:

  • Feeling of pressure in the neck area,
  • Shortness of breath,
  • Difficulties swallowing,
  • Throat irritation,
  • Change in a goiter, e.g. if it suddenly feels coarser or grows rapidly,
  • Enlargement of the lymph nodes in the neck area,
  • Hoarseness.

These warning signs could indicate a potentially malicious change. However, they can also have other, sometimes more harmless, causes. However, you should consult a doctor immediately in these cases. The earlier thyroid cancer is detected, the better the chances of recovery.

In the rare hereditary forms of medullary thyroid carcinoma, affected family members can be examined specifically and thus a possible disease can be detected very early. Several tests, such as genetic tests, are available for early detection. The preliminary stage of the familial form of medullary thyroid carcinoma, the so-called C-cell hyperplasia, has a complete chance of recovery if the thyroid is completely removed.

Since adults who received radiation therapy for another cancer disease as children or adolescents also have a higher risk of thyroid tumors, they should have their thyroid examined once a year.

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