As we grow older, we develop nodules in our thyroid glands. A study shows that as much as 75 percent of the population will develop thyroid nodules but almost all of them (99%) is noncancerous. About 90% of us will have these nodules by the time we hit 80.
In most cases, thyroid cancer causes no symptoms especially in its early stages. But as the cancer grows, these symptoms may be experienced:
* Hoarseness or difficulty speaking
*Difficulty breathing or swallowing
*Neck or throat pain
*Enlarged lymph nodes
*A nodule or a lump in the neck
Remember that these symptoms are not definite signs of thyroid cancer. You may have all these symptoms but still no thyroid cancer. It means that these are signs of possibly another disease or medical problem like goiter or another infection. The best way to make sure is to visit your doctor.
If you experience all the symptoms above, the doctor would ask you about your medical history. Then he would perform tests to see if you have thyroid cancer. These tests may include:
*Physical exam — your physician will feel your neck and check if there are strange enlargements or growths.
*Ultrasonography — your doctor may use ultrasound on your neck to check the number of nodules, their size and other properties.
*Blood test — your doctor may check the levels of hormones in your bloodstream specifically of thyroid-stimulationg hormone or THS. THS increases the amount of thyroid hormone and is produced by the pituitary gland in the brain. The doctor may also check for unusual levels of calcium in the blood. Abnormally high levels of calcium may be a sign of an altered RET gene, one of the causes of medullary thyroid cancer.
*Biopsy — your doctor may remove a tissue sample from your body to check if the nodules are malignant or cancerous.Early detection is the key. Diagnosing cancer way before it becomes a serious problem and a threat to your life is what most patients forget. For some of them, it is too late. Consulting your physician regularly saves lives.
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