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Thyroid cancer begins in the thyroid gland, which is in the front part of the neck. The thyroid gland produces hormones that help regulate metabolism, heart rate, blood pressure, and body temperature. Thyroid cancer is more commonly diagnosed at a younger age than most other cancers found in adults. It is found three times more often in women than in men.
Signs and symptoms of thyroid cancer may include:
- A lump or swelling in the neck
- Pain in the front of the neck
- Persistent hoarseness
- Trouble swallowing
- Trouble breathing
- Constant cough not caused by cold or other illness
Thyroid cancer is often diagnosed early during a routine physical exam, or after the patient begins to see symptoms. If you are experiencing a lump or swelling in your neck, please see your physician.
Surgery is the main treatment for most thyroid cancers. Surgery may be used to remove the lobe containing the cancer, or to remove the thyroid gland or nearby lymph nodes. Other treatment for thyroid cancer may include:
- Radioactive Iodine Therapy: The thyroid absorbs almost all of the iodine in the body. This therapy finds and destroys thyroid cancer cells not removed by surgery or those that have spread beyond the thyroid by targeting the iodine in the body.
- External-beam Radiation Therapy: High energy x-rays are given from a machine outside of the body to target cancer cells. This is usually only used in later stages of thyroid cancer, when the cancer has spread to other areas of the neck.
- Hormone Therapy: If your thyroid has been removed, hormone therapy can be used to replace the natural hormone, slow the growth of any remaining cancer cells, and potentially lower the risk of the cancer returning.