Thyroid cancer refers to an abnormal tissue mass or tumor of the thyroid. There are several types of thyroid cancer, and in all cases symptoms like an enlarged lymph node, pain in the area of the neck and in one’s throat, as well as damage to the laryngeal nerve (which accounts for the change in one’s voice) are typical.
More specifically, there are 4 types of thyroid cancer: papillary thyroid cancer, follicular cancer, medullary, and anaplastic thyroid cancer. Papillary cancer is by far the most common of all types of thyroid cancer. In fact, if someone is diagnosed with thyroid cancer, 86 out of 100 times, it will be papillary cancer. The good thing is that this type of cancer is curable, plus it does not exhibit aggressive development. Instead, it grows slowly and steadily, which means that if you read the signs, you will have all the time you need to run some tests and pursue the right treatment so that you get rid of the tumor at an early stage.
One out of ten people, on the other hand, suffer from follicular thyroid cancer and the target group affected is mainly women over 50 years of age. Follicular cells start growing abnormally, and slowly but surely they form a tumor in the thyroid. Given that it is diagnosed early, follicular cancer is also one of those types of thyroid cancer that can be treated with one hundred percent success.
As for medullary and anaplastic cancer, they are very uncommon compared to the first two types of thyroid cancer. Medullary cancer affects only two percent of people diagnosed with thyroid cancer; it starts from cancerous C cells, which in turn cause excessive production of calcitonin (a polypeptide hormone produced in the thyroid countering the action of the parathyroid hormone and decalcifying blood). Medullary cancer also develops slowly, which means that in most cases there is time to treat the cancer and remove the tumor before it moves on to other parts of the body (for if that happens, one’s chance of fighting the cancer off are lowered significantly).
With respect to anaplastic cancer, this is without doubt the most aggressive and most dangerous of all types of thyroid cancer. Again, the problem stems from abnormal follicular cells of the thyroid. Unfortunately, anaplastic cancer tends to grow rapidly and spread to other parts of the body faster than you can diagnose and treat effectively. In fact the survival rate for patients diagnosed with anaplastic thyroid cancer is lower than ten percent, although the target group is people over sixty (not that their age makes it less sad).
The best thing you can do to protect yourself from all the types of thyroid cancer mentioned above is to perform regular check-ups. Prevention is always better than any kind of treatment, no matter how successful it can be. Therefore, it would be best if you visited your doctor at least once a year (two would be even better), not only to check for thyroid cancer, but in general to keep tabs on your health.