Per The American Cancer Society: 2008 about 37,340 new cases of thyroid cancer will be diagnosed in the United States. Of those, about 28,410 will occur in women, and 8,930 in men. A three to one ratio. AND…nearly 2 out of 3 cases are found in people between the ages of 20 and 55.
What exactly is the thyroid?
The thyroid is a two lobed, or butterfly shaped gland at the lower front of your neck. For men, it is just beneath the Adam’s Apple. The wings wrap around the trachea. Part of the endocrine system, the thyroid gland produces a hormone that aids in metabolism and regulates the amount of calcium in the blood.
Thyroid Cancer Risk Factors:
- Exposure-a history of radiation therapy (not dental x-rays)
- Family History:your risk increases to 50% in medullary cancer if you have a parent with the disease
- Family History of goiters (enlarged thyroid)
- Age: as above, the risk group is 20 to 55 years of age
- Sex: as above women are at higher risk
- Late Childbearing: post 30 years of age childbearing
- Race: higher risk for white Americans
- Diet: low in iodine for certain thyroid cancers
Thyroid Cancer Symptoms and Diagnosis:
Symptoms may be silent in thyroid cancer. The gland, normally the size of a quarter may swell. At this point it is called a goiter (enlarged thyroid gland). Goiters are not neccesarily cancerous but may simply be due to an iodine deficiency or an abnormality in the gland function.
Seek medical attention for these symptoms:
After a visual inspection, your health care provider may order the following to determine if you have thyroid cancer and if so, what type and stage, in an effort to formulate the best treatment modality for you.
- Blood tests: TSH( thyroid stimulating factor) blood tests as well as calcium levels evaluates thyroid function
- FNB (fine needle biopsy) is the method of diagnosing cancer
- Other tests may follow to assess for metastasis such ast CT, MRI, ultrasound, Radionuclidescans of the liver and bones
The Main Types of Thyroid Cancer:
- Papillary-the most common (78%)-slow growing and highly treatable
- Follicular-usually treatable-incidence is 17%
- Medullar-the rarest form of thyroid cancer, one in ten is hereditary -incidence is 4%
- Anaplastic-aggressive and fast growing-1% incidence
Treatment Options May Include a Combination of:
- lobectomy: to remove one of the two thyroid gland lobes or the isthmus that connects them
- Thyroidectomy: removal of all thyroid
- Sub-total thyroidectomy: removal of the part of the thyroid with the tumor
External Beam Radiation Therapy:for localized follicular and papillary tumors.
Radioiodine therapy:a type of ablation therapy which targets the cancerous thyroid cells in papillary and follicular thyroid cancer with radioactive agents.
Chemotherapy:a treatment used usually for medullary thyroid cancer and to relieve symptoms associated with aplastic thyroid cancer
Hormone Therapy: thyroid hormone replacement therapy if you no longer produce thyroid hormones due to treatment or TSH suppressing therapy to reduce the risk of growth of any remaining cancer cells.
Thyroid Cancer in the News!
Reuters, July 2, 2008: Tumor starving pill helps thyroid cancer-study. Researchers reported that Amgen’s once-a-day pill to starve tumors can help many patients with hard-to-treat thyroid cancer, by shrinking tumors or slowing their growth. 49 percent of patients with advanced-stage thyroid cancer responded to the pill, known as AMG 706 or motesanib diphosphate
- The American Thyroid Association: The ATA is the leading organization focused on thyroid biology and the prevention and treatment of thyroid disorders through excellence and innovation in research, clinical care, education, and public health.
- ThyCa: Thyroid Cancer Survivor’s Association Inc. Maintains information on thyroid cancer and support for anyone at any stage of testing, traetment or lifelong monitoring for thyroid cancer .as well as their caregivers.
Coming in August 2008 from the American Cancer Society