The thyroid is a butterfly-shaped gland that is found at the front base of the neck just below the Adam’s Apple. The major role of the thyroid is the production of hormones that regulate weight, oxygen consumption, body temperature and the heart rate among other functions.
Thyroid cancer is cancer that develops in the thyroid as a result multiplication of abnormal cells that as a result form a tumour. This type of cancer, if diagnosed in a timely manner, can be treated and cured.
Types of Thyroid Cancer
There are different types of thyroid cancer, with the most common ones including:
- Anaplastic Thyroid Cancer (ATC): This is considered as one of the rare and lethal forms of thyroid cancer. It is common among older people, although it can develop at any age group, and spreads quite rapidly through the nymph nodes.
- Papillary Thyroid Cancer (FTC): This is the most common type of thyroid cancer and grows slowly with more often than not spreading to the neck’s nymph nodes.
- Follicular Thyroid Cancer (FTC): This is an aggressive form of thyroid cancer with a vascular invasion potential and is considered the second most common type of thyroid cancer. However, this cancer has a positive prognosis.
- Medullary Thyroid Cancer (MTC): In its early stages, Medullary Thyroid Cancer, which is the third most common type of thyroid cancer, has the ability to spread to other organs through the nymph nodes. It is considered more aggressive than the papillary and medullary thyroid cancers.
Symptoms of Thyroid Cancer
Although thyroid cancer can present without any symptoms, the most common symptoms include:
- A lump sensation in the neck
- Difficulty while swallowing
- Mild pain in the neck
- Voice changes including hoarseness
- Swelling of the neck
- Pain, especially if you have medullary thyroid cancer
- Persistent cough that is not as a result of flu
- Difficulty breathing
Causes of Thyroid Cancer
Although there are no known causes of thyroid cancer, there are factors which can put one at risk of developing it. These include:
- Exposure to high doses of radiation
- Iodine deficiency
- Genetics – especially for medullary thyroid cancer
Diagnosis of Thyroid Cancer
Early diagnosis of thyroid cancer can lead to a successful treatment. If you notice or detect a lump on your neck, then it is recommended to seek medical help for a diagnosis. This is because most cases of thyroid cancer are usually found during a physical exam either by a doctor or the patient. Thyroid cancer is diagnosed through:
- A physical exam on any nodules or lumps on the neck
- An ultrasound scan
- Radioiodine scan to measure radiation presence in the thyroid
- CT Scan
- Biopsy (tissue sample is removed from neck lump for analysis)
- Genetic tests based on family history of cancer genes
- Blood tests to figure out the health of the thyroid
Thyroid Cancer Treatment
Thyroid cancer treatment is usually dependent on:
- The aggressiveness of the cancer
- Type of the cancer
- Stage of the cancer
- Size and location of the tumour
- Age and overall health of the patient
- History of thyroid cancer in the family
- Gene mutation test results
Treatment options for thyroid cancer include:
Surgery: This is the most common type of thyroid cancer treatment, and can involve either a thyroidectomy, which is the complete removal of the thyroid, or lobectomy, which is the partial removal of the thyroid gland. Surgery can also be used to remove lymph nodes in the neck.
Radioiodine Therapy: This mode of treatment uses radiation to destroy the thyroid since most thyroid cancers absorb iodine. The therapy can also be used after a partial removal of the thyroid to destroy any remaining cancer cells as well as lymph nodes in the neck area.
Chemotherapy: Involves the use of anti-cancer drugs to destroy any remaining fast-growing cancer cells in the thyroid area.
Hormone Therapy: Thyroid hormone pills are used in cases where the thyroid has been removed in order to maintain normal thyroid function by replacing the missing thyroid hormone.
Targeted Therapy: This is a form of treatment that targets and slows down or stops the growth of the cancer cells.
At King’s College Hospital Dubai, we focus on offering an exemplary service. From initial consultation through to final diagnosis, treatment and beyond. Our multidisciplinary team of expert doctors and nurses, and technologists led by Dr Hassan Ghazal – an American triple board-certified Consultant Medical Oncologist and a Consultant Clinical Hematologist with more than 3 decades of clinical experience, are here to offer tailored management and treatment of your condition, and to answer any questions that you may have throughout your time with us. Whatever you need us for, we’re only a phone-call away.
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