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Thyroid Cancer - Symptoms, Causes, Stages and Treatment

13 March, 2021 Ananya Das

Thyroid is a butterfly-shaped gland that is located in your throat just below the Adam’s apple at the base of your neck. The gland produces hormone which are necessary for the body to regulate your heart rate, blood pressure and body temperature. Even your weight is controlled by the hormones produced by the thyroid gland. If mutation takes places in the genes of thyroid gland cells then they start dividing uncontrollably and develop a tumor in the gland which eventually grows into a cancer called thyroid cancer.

Various kinds of thyroid cancer are present at present which varies based on the rate of its growth. The number of thyroid cancer cases is increasing with time this is because with technology the diagnosis accuracy has improved now which is able to detect even smaller developing cancer cells. But the good thing is most of the thyroid cancers are treatable and patient gets well soon.


Usually the signs of thyroid cancer are not visible at early stages. They start to show up as it grows. Following are the symptoms of thyroid cancer:

  • Pain in the throat and neck
  • Change in voice, increases hoarseness
  • Difficulty while swallowing food
  • Lymph in the neck which is swollen and can be felt with hand

Risk factors:

Following are the risk factors which enhances the chances of developing thyroid cancer:

1. Family history: If anyone from your family and ancestors had thyroid cancer then there are chances that you may also develop it at some point.

2. Age factor: People above the age of 40 years are at high risk of developing thyroid cancer.

3. Female sex: Females have more risk of developing these cancers than males.

4. Exposure to radiation: If radiation therapy treatment is used to treat any head and neck problem then it increases the risk of this cancer.

5. History of breast cancer: During the treatment of breast cancer usually radiation therapy is used around the chest which increases the risk of thyroid cancer.


The actual cause of thyroid cancer is yet not known. But thyroid cancer develops when the thyroid cells start growing and multiplying uncontrollably and loses its ability to die. This leads to accumulation of abnormal thyroid cells that forms the tumor and with time develops into a cancer which can even become invasive as it grows.


The stages of the thyroid cancer vary with the type of the cancer. Staging describes the location of the cancer, its invasive nature and the parts of body it is affecting. Usually TNM staging system is used by doctors to define the stages of the cancer. Doctors conduct tests to know:

  • (T) Tumor: This describes the size of the primary tumor and the location where it exists.
  • (N) Node: It lets know if the tumor or cancer has spread to the lymph nodes, if so then where and how much.
  • (M) Metastasis: Whether cancer has spread to other parts of the body and if has spread then where and how much?

Usually for thyroid cancer there are stages which run from stage 0 to stage IV. And depending upon the type whether patient have papiliary or follicular thyroid cancer the stage various based on the age of the patient.


The way of treatment to be employed depends on various factors and the most effective factor is the type and the stage of the thyroid cancer to have and if it’s invasive or not.

1. Surgery: Mostly undergoing surgery to remove the thyroid gland is preferred by people having thyroid cancer. But this removes the body’s ability to produce normal thyroid hormones. In that case external oral supplement for thyroid hormones are given to do the job.

2. Chemotherapy: In this method external drugs are provided to the patient that works to kill the cancer cells or reduce the tumor size before surgery. Even chemo therapy can be used parallel to other method of treatment.

3. Radioactive iodine: Iodine deficiency is one of the risk factor which can cause thyroid cancer as iodine is an essential element for our body. Therefore external radioactive iodine is provided to the patient that can fulfill the iodine deficiency as well as destroy the cancer cells.

All the drugs and supplements required for the treatment of thyroid cancer are readily available in online pharmacies.

Be careful about the symptoms you experience in your daily routine. If any of the above symptoms are faced then be sure to consult your doctor. At early stage there are high chances of curing the cancer. But some types of thyroid cancer are found to be recurring so it’s always advised to undergo regular checkups to know if your cancer has recurred and get the treatment started early.


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