Today, more than 40,000 people in the United States are diagnosed with thyroid cancer each year in the United States only. The disease is often treatable, but patients need to know what to expect from their care team.
In this blog post, we’ll take a look at everything patients need to know about thyroid cancer, including treatment options, causes, risk factors, and warning signs.
What is thyroid cancer?
Thyroid cancer is a type of cancer that affects the thyroid gland, an organ located in the front of the neck. This gland produces hormones that help regulate metabolism, body temperature, and heart rate.
The most common form of thyroid cancer is papillary thyroid cancer, which starts in the cells that form the follicles of the thyroid gland. It can spread to other parts of the body if left untreated. Other types of thyroid cancer include medullary thyroid cancer, follicular thyroid cancer, and anaplastic thyroid cancer.
Since thyroid cancer grows in gland tissue, it usually produces thyroid hormones and causes hyperthyroidism. However, there are different presentations of thyroid cancer, and not all will produce thyroid hormone at the same rate.
Causes of thyroid cancer
The exact causes of thyroid cancer are unknown, but there are some factors that may increase the risk of developing it. These include genetics, radiation exposure, certain medications, age, gender, and a family history of thyroid cancer.
- Genetics, in particular, play a role in the development of thyroid cancer, as certain gene mutations can increase the risk of developing the disease.
- Radiation exposure, such as radiation therapy treatments for other types of cancer, can also increase the risk of developing thyroid cancer.
- Additionally, certain medications, such as lithium, which is used as a treatment for bipolar disorder, can also increase the risk of goiter, and these patients may have a higher risk of thyroid cancer, too.
- Age, gender, and a family history of thyroid cancer can also increase the risk of developing the disease.