The thyroid is a butterfly-shaped gland at the base of the neck, which produces a thyroid hormone that controls our metabolism. Thyroid cancer is very common, especially among women.
Thyroid cancer generally does not cause any symptoms. However, it may lead to difficulty swallowing, a lump in the neck, or voice alterations. Often, cancers are found in nodules, which are felt by the patient or one of our specialists. If you are believed to have a type of thyroid cancer, a biopsy may be requested based on your physical examination or other tests, such as radiology tests.
Different Types of Thyroid Cancer
There are various types of thyroid cancer, and the primary treatment is the surgical removal of the thyroid and sometimes enlarge lymph nodes.
- Papillary – The most common type of thyroid cancer, which typically develops gradually with a good prognosis. Thyroid surgery is generally performed to treat papillary thyroid cancer.
- Follicular – This type also has an overall good prognosis, and is treated in similar ways as papillary thyroid cancer.
- Medullary – This cancer grows from cells in the thyroid gland, and differs from papillary and follicular thyroid cancers. Although this type of cancer is far less common, it does not have as favorable prognosis. This carcinoma is associated with several inherited syndrome, but most cases happen to occur without any family history. Primarily surgery is the most common treatment.
- Anaplastic – The least common form of thyroid cancer, but the most aggressive. Anaplastic grows rapidly and generally requires a multi-disciplinary team to define the best treatment plan.
What are Nodules?
A nodule is a structural abnormal growth within the thyroid gland. In some cases, a patient may have one nodule while other patients have multiple nodules. Thyroid nodules are typically common in women and vary in size, from minuscule to very large.
Most thyroid nodules are non-cancerous and do not cause symptoms or requiring any treatment. However, based on the size of the nodule, treatment may be necessary for the appearance of symptoms it may cause. Some nodules are significant enough to lead to a goiter, causing symptoms including difficulty swallowing or breathing. Not as often, some nodules are cancers and require thyroid surgery as treatment. Additionally, a nodule may be overactive, producing too much thyroid hormones, or a condition called hyperthyroidism.
To find out the best treatment option for your thyroid complications, it is important to receive a further evaluation at Alabama Ear, Nose, and Throat Specialists as soon as possible. Contact us today to schedule your appointment.