Thyroid cancer is a malignant tumour in the thyroid. The thyroid gland is located in the front part of the neck and is responsible for producing hormones that help regulate the body’s metabolism.
There are different types of thyroid cancer; the papillary and follicular forms are far more common and are less aggressive than anaplastic and medullary thyroid cancer.
Although it is unclear why thyroid cancer occurs, risk factors may include the following:
- Excessive radiation exposure to the area
- Iodine deficiency
- Inherited genetic syndromes
Symptoms of thyroid cancer may include:
- Swelling in the lower anterior part of the neck without pain in most of the conditions
- Difficulty swallowing
- Irritation in the throat
- Breathing difficulty
- Changed of voice and hoarseness
- Incidental finding of thyroid gland nodule during clinical checking for other medical conditions.
An ultrasound of the thyroid gland may help detect many lumps or tumours of the thyroid gland. Should anything suspicious be detected, sample tissues are investigated after carrying out a simple fine needle aspiration procedure for cytology under local anaesthesia. In addition, an investigation of the thyroid hormones will also be carried out via a blood test.
A multi-disciplinary team will discuss the case and determine the best treatment modality for each case, which might include surgical operation for removing the thyroid gland (thyroidectomy).