ABC Medical Center > Thyroid cancer

What is Thyroid cancer?

21:53 - 4 May , 2021


It is a disease in which the thyroid cells (the gland that produces hormones that control temperature, heart rate, blood pressure, and body weight) are affected by genetic mutations and grow uncontrollably, forming a tumor and being able to spread to other organs. Currently, thyroid cancer cases have increased, although its cause is unknown. However, it is known that certain factors can contribute to its development, such as:

  • Being female, as this type of cancer is more common in women.
  • Having received radiotherapy or being exposed to high levels of radiation.
  • Inherited genetic syndromes such as multiple endocrine neoplasia, Cowden syndrome, and familial adenomatous polyposis.

Thyroid cancer is classified into:

  • Medullary: appears in C cells that generate a hormone called calcitonin.
  • Papillary: it is the most frequent and has a higher incidence in people between 30 and 50 years old.
  • Anaplastic: it is a rare type and it appears in older adults. It begins in the follicular cells, is aggressive, evolves rapidly, and is difficult to treat.
  • Follicular: it also appears in the follicular cells, affecting people over 50 years old.

There are other types of thyroid cancer such as lymphoma and sarcoma, although both are rare.

Signs and symptoms Thyroid cancer

Thyroid cancer usually does not cause symptoms, especially at first, but as it progresses it causes: 

  • Changes in the tone of voice.
  • Hoarseness.
  • Sore throat and neck.
  • Swollen lymph nodes in the neck.
  • Nodule or lump in the neck.
  • Swallowing problems.

Diagnosis and treatment Thyroid cancer

To detect it, your doctor, in addition to analyzing your symptoms and clinical history, will perform a physical examination and request blood tests, genetic tests, and tissue biopsy to detect cancer, as well as tests to determine the size of the tumor, such as ultrasound, MRI, computed tomography, and nuclear medicine.

The treatment to follow depends on the type of cancer, the size of the tumor, if it has spread to other organs, and your general health. Most often, however, surgery is used to remove part or all of the thyroid gland, sometimes along with the neck lymph nodes.

After thyroidectomy, you may require lifelong medications to cover thyroid hormone deficiency, radioactive iodine treatments, chemotherapy, and/or radiation therapy. Tiny tumors may not require treatment but constant medical monitoring to see if there have been no changes.

Unfortunately, thyroid cancer can return, even after surgery or treatment, especially if cancer cells have spread to other areas of the body before the thyroid was removed, such as lymph nodes in the neck, bones, and lungs.

It is important to mention that thyroid surgery can cause infections, bleeding, and damage the parathyroid glands, causing low levels of calcium in the body. It can also affect the nerves connected to the vocal cords, triggering voice abnormalities or breathing problems.

Since its opening in 2009, our Cancer Center offers chemotherapy and radiotherapy treatments at the level of the best medical centers in the world through a comprehensive care model for cancer patients.


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