The thyroid is a butterfly-shaped gland at the base of the throat that makes, stores, and releases thyroid hormones that affect almost every cell in your body and help regulate your metabolism.
Normally, the replacement of old thyroid cells by new cells is constant and regulated. In some cases, certain cells become abnormal and do not follow the regular cycle of growth. When these abnormal cells continue to grow and reproduce in an uncontrolled way, they form a tumor.
Thyroid cancer is more common in women than in men; almost three times as many women as men get thyroid cancer. Thyroid cancer strikes people at a younger age than most other cancers, with most patients between 20 and 54 years old.
There are several reasons why a patient or physician might suspect thyroid cancer. One of the most common is finding a thyroid nodule, either through a self-exam or in a check-up. A nodule is a lump that may be felt on the neck. Nodules are not uncommon, and only about 5% are cancerous.
Joan, Thyroid Cancer
Performing regular ‘neck checks’ to search for thyroid nodules can result in early detection and treatment. Your doctor can check your neck, or you can even check it yourself.
One of the most common ways to confirm thyroid cancer is with a fine needle aspiration biopsy. During this procedure, a small needle is inserted through the skin into the thyroid nodule, where it draws out a sample of the cells inside the nodule. This sample is then examined under a microscope. These biopsies are generally quick and safe, and they don’t usually cause much discomfort.
Thyroid cancer is treatable, but it requires a lifetime of careful monitoring.
Consult your doctor if you believe you or someone you know has exhibited symptoms of thyroid cancer.