Thyroid cancer is found three times more often in women than in men. It occurs when cancerous cells begin to grow in the butterfly-shaped gland located at the base of your neck, called the thyroid. Most cases of thyroid cancer are curable with proper treatment.
The thyroid gland produces hormones that are essential for the normal regulation of heart rate, blood pressure, body temperature and weight. Thyroid cancer is typically diagnosed at an earlier age than most other cancers. According to the American Cancer Society, nearly 2 of 3 cases are found in people between the ages of 20 and 55.
How is thyroid cancer diagnosed?
Patients who are diagnosed with thyroid cancer often come to their doctors when they notice a lump or nodule on their neck. The physician will thoroughly examine any swelling or nodule. Often, these nodules are not cancerous and tend to disappear over time. Some other common symptoms associated with thyroid cancer include:
- Pain in the front of the neck
- Trouble speaking or hoarseness of the voice
- Difficulty swallowing
- Persistent cough
- Trouble breathing
If you notice any of these symptoms, you should speak with a physician as soon as possible. Your physician may perform a blood test to see if the thyroid is performing normally. The results of this test may help the doctor decide what other types of tests are necessary. The doctor may need to biopsy the nodule to determine whether or not cancer cells are present. Imaging tests may also be useful in diagnosing this type of cancer and to see if it has spread.
FirstHealth Moore Regional Hospital in Pinehurst, NC provides thyroid cancer diagnosis and treatment services to patients in Sanford, Raeford, Laurinburg, Lumberton, Troy and Rockingham regions of North Carolina and beyond.