We always associate a sore throat with common colds, allergies, or excessive exposure to pollutants. Fact is, it could be potentially serious, especially when it happens more often than usual. Thyroid cancer occurs when abnormal cells start growing in your thyroid gland. The thyroid gland, known for its butterfly shape, is located in the front of your neck. It plays an important role in how hormones regulate the way your body utilizes energy to function.
Thyroid cancer is quite an uncommon type of cancer, and experts don’t necessarily know its root causes. But like the majority of cancers, changes in the DNA seem to play a leading role.
Thyroid cancer can cause a few distinct symptoms:
1. A lump in the neck
Bumps and lumps are always something to be cautious of, and any lump that refuses to disappear within a few weeks should immediately be checked out. If thyroid cancer has spread to the nearby lymph nodes, the mass might be located on the side of the neck where the lymph nodes usually are instead of the front where the thyroid gland sits.
2. Difficulties in breathing and swallowing
As a mass grows, it could lead to a sore throat that interferes with your ability to breathe and swallow. If this difficulty in breathing and swallowing does not go away within a few weeks, it’s worth getting checked out.
3. Developing a hoarse voice
Your voice box sits right on top of the thyroid, so any changes to the gland could alter your voice, making you sound chronically hoarse.
Diagnosis and Treatment
If you do develop thyroid cancer, your treatment options will depend on the size and stage of your tumor.
Tumors that are less than 1 centimeter, also known as micro-papillary thyroid cancer, can be left alone. Your doctor might simply postpone the need for treatment and send you for an ultrasound every six months to ensure that nothing has changed.
In a difference case, if you have a lump in your neck that could potentially be thyroid cancer, your doctor may perform a biopsy of your thyroid gland to check for any cancer cells. A biopsy is a procedure in which a small piece of the thyroid tissue is removed, usually with a needle, and then checked.
In cases where the results of a biopsy are not clear, you may need to undergo surgery to remove all or a portion of your thyroid gland before your doctor can diagnose you with thyroid cancer.
3. Immediate Removal of Tumor
Larger and aggressive tumors must be removed immediately, but it does not necessarily mean that you need to have your entire thyroid removed. Taking out your entire thyroid gland implicates the need for taking thyroid hormones for the rest of your life. There’s also a high risk of injuring the nearby parathyroid gland, which controls the body’s calcium balance. These days, many patients only remove part of the thyroid, specifically where the tumor is, which then allows a patient to dodge any side effects. Depending on the specifics, someone with thyroid cancer might also need radiation, chemotherapy, or targeted medication.
The odds of beating thyroid cancer are usually in favor of the patient. The survival rate for stage I and stage II papillary or follicular thyroid cancer is almost 100%.