The Basics of Thyroid Cancer

The thyroid is a small, butterfly-shaped gland located near the base of the neck. Its main function is to produce thyroid hormones, carried throughout the body via the bloodstream to help control metabolism. It also helps the body regulate energy use, heat production, and oxygen consumption.

As small as it is, the thyroid gland is an important part of the body and must be taken good care of as much as the other bigger organs. However, there are certain diseases that are affecting the thyroid gland, like hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism, that are not only hard to diagnose, but also very taxing to treat. Complications to these diseases may lead to thyroid cancer.

What is thyroid cancer?

Thyroid cancer is a rare form of cancer wherein abnormal cells mutate in the thyroid and form a tumor. It is one of the most treatable types of cancer, provided it is detected early and treated right away. The American Cancer Society estimated that so far in 2018, there are 53,900 new cases of thyroid cancer and over 2,000 deaths from the same. It can happen to anyone, even to children and teens.

Causes of Thyroid Cancer

There is no clear-cut explanation as to the exact cause of thyroid cancer, but there are factors that surely increase the risk of getting the disease. According to the American Thyroid Association (ATA), persons with exposure to high doses of radiation as well as those with family history of thyroid cancer are at a higher risk to develop the disease. Obesity, thyroiditis, and acromegaly (condition wherein the body produces excessive amounts of growth hormone) also considered risk factors by The National Health Service in United Kingdom.

Possible Symptoms of Thyroid Cancer

Symptoms of thyroid cancer include a usually painless lump or visible swelling on the neck, a sore throat, or cough that does not go away, constant throat pain and hoarseness of voice. Most lumps or nodules are benign can be left alone but any symptoms severely felt should not be ignored.

Types of Thyroid Cancers

There are several types of thyroid cancer, ranging from Papillary thyroid cancer (the most common type, affecting 70% to 80% of thyroid cancers) to Medullary thyroid (quire rare but statistically found to be a type of cancer that runs in the family) and Anaplastic thyroid cancer (the most aggressive form and has the least positive response to treatment).

Possible Treatments for Thyroid Cancers

Health care professionals may recommend specific treatments depending on the type and severity of the thyroid cancer. There may be a wide range of treatments for it, but the secret to beating it is really in early detection.

The ATA and the National Cancer Institute has shared the following possible treatments:

Citations and references:

  1. American Cancer Society. (Revised 2018 January 4). Key Statistics for Thyroid Cancer. Retrieved from
  2. American Thyroid Association. Thyroid Cancer (Papillary and Follicular). Retrieved from
  3. National Health Service UK. Overview – Thyroid Cancer. Retrieved from
  4. National Cancer Institute. (Updated 2018 May 23). Thyroid Cancer Treatment (Adult) (PDQ®)–Patient Version. Retrieved from
  5. WebMD. What is Thyroid Cancer? Retrieved from



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