The thyroid is a shield shaped endocrine gland located at the front side of the neck. It is a double lobed gland that produces hormones such as thyroxin (T4) and triiodothyronine (T3) that regulate the rate of metabolism and the rate of growth and functioning of other body-systems.
Normally cells grow and divide to form new cells according to the needs of the body and when cells grow old, they die. Some times this process goes awry and cells start forming even when the body does not need them. And at other times old cells do not die. These extra cells form a growth or tumor, commonly known as cancer (a mass of tissue). Such growths on thyroid are usually called nodules, requiring specific thyroid treatment for cancer.
There is little confirmed knowledge available about the cause of thyroid cancer but what is known is the fact that there are certain factors that increase the risk of contracting this disease. These include exposure to radiation through X-Rays and radioactive fallout, a change in a gene called RET that can be hereditary, and lack of iodine in diet. But these risk factors are, however, only indicative and do not guarantee that thyroid cancer shall occur for sure.
Early thyroid cancer does not cause any symptoms but as cancer grows, some indicative symptoms may surface in the shape of
* A lump, or nodule, in the front of the neck near the Adam’s apple
* Hoarseness or difficulty speaking in a normal voice
* Swollen lymph nodes, especially in the neck
* Difficulty swallowing or breathing
* Pain in the throat or neck
Commonly known treatment options for thyroid cancer include radioactive iodine, external radiation and chemotherapy. These therapies are known for their dangerous side effects as they are known to damage healthy cells along with the cancerous cells that they are supposed to destroy.
Hormonal treatment of thyroid cancer very rarely causes any side effects but many cases of rash and loss of hair have been reported after administration of hormonal pills.
Surgery is often uncomfortable and may also result in voice problems or disfiguring of one of the shoulders as in some cases certain nerves and muscles may be removed during the operation. The extensive research that is going on in the field of cancer cure is bringing forth new drugs in the market. The sad part is that all these drugs seem to bring forth a new set of side effects.
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Originally posted 2007-03-18 09:58:09.
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