Thyroid Cancer: Symptoms That Should Alert Women
Even though most women recognize the importance of being screened for various types of cancer, doctors say that the increased incidence of thyroid cancer has somehow not been spotted by many.
Thyroid cancer that affects the thyroid gland but has the potential to spread to other parts of the body is especially common in women; however, it remains unclear why this is so. According to cancer.org, the incidence of thyroid cancer has tripled in the last three decades in America to become cancer with the fastest rate of growth.
It may seem strange for cancer that has such a high rate of incidence but most people do not display any signs of thyroid cancer. Consequently, most thyroid cancer cases are detected during other medical screenings. However, some of the more advanced and aggressive thyroid cancers do display some symptoms that being relatively rare should alert you to a potential problem that needs to be investigated by a doctor.
These symptoms include:
The drastic change in the timber of the voice: Often this type of cancer becomes very aggressive and invades the surrounding structures. If by chance, cancer spreads to the nerve that controls the vocal cord, it can result in the voice changing quite a bit, usually; it is seen to become hoarse.
Difficulty swallowing or breathing: When the tumor exerts pressure on the surrounding structures, including the windpipe and the food pipe, the patient may experience difficulty in breathing or swallowing.
Extreme diarrhea: Medullar thyroid cancer produces proteins that can cause very severe diarrhea, with bowel movements as frequent as 10 to 20 times per day.
Cough up blood: Thyroid cancer can cause patients to cough up blood in some cases, as the gland is intimately associated with the esophagus and the trachea. The sputum must be checked using good quality biochem lab supply in a reputed diagnostics lab.
Large lump at the base of the neck: If patients experience a large but painless lump in the base of the neck, especially if they have been undergoing radiation therapy to the neck for any reason, it is advisable to get in checked by a doctor. Typically, these large lumps are the first signs of this type of cancer.
Swollen lymph nodes: As with any illness, the lymph nodes tend to swell when patients suffer from thyroid cancer. Since it is a common symptom, by itself, it should not be a red flag for thyroid cancer.
Treatment of Thyroid Cancer
The primary method of treatment for differentiated and medullary thyroid cancers is surgery to remove the thyroid gland and the lymph nodes if required. This may be followed by a course of radioactive iodine pills to ensure that any remaining cancerous cells are killed off. Patients need to receive medication to replace the thyroid hormone earlier produced by the body. Anaplastic thyroid cancer is more aggressive but with chemotherapy, patients are known to enjoy a good quality of life for one or two years before succumbing.
The most important thing is to get diagnosed early and get treated by a specialist doctor. There is no point in getting worked up; rather patients should consult the American Thyroid Association or the Thyroid Cancer Survivors’ Association for a better perspective on the course of action and finding the best doctor for the treatment.