September is Thyroid Cancer Awareness Month: What is Thyroid Cancer?

Posted: 9/26/2017 12:04 PM by Interim HealthCare
According to the American Cancer Society, approximately 56,870 people in the United States will be diagnosed with thyroid cancer this year. And, 2,010 people will die as a result of thyroid cancer this year. The good news is that today’s technology allows doctors to find thyroid cancer sooner, making treatments even more effective. In fact, experts at the Mayo Clinic say that the majority of cases of thyroid cancer can be cured when treated.
How the Thyroid Works
Thyroid cancer is cancer that starts in the thyroid gland. The thyroid gland is shaped like a butterfly and is located just below the Adam’s apple. The thyroid gland is responsible for making hormones that are necessary for regulating metabolism. The hormones secreted by the thyroid also help to control heart rate, blood pressure, and body temperature.
Causes of Thyroid Cancer
Unfortunately, experts have not been able to pinpoint just what causes a person to develop thyroid cancer. They believe it has something to do with changes that occur in the DNA of cells. These changes may be heredity, or they could be something that happens as a person ages. Although doctors don’t know the cause of thyroid cancer, they have identified some factors that raise the risk for developing the disease. Risk factors for thyroid cancer include:
  • Aging.
  • Being a woman.
  • A medical or family history of thyroid conditions.
  • Being exposed to high levels of radiation, such as after a nuclear power accident or radiation treatments to the head, chest, or neck.
  • A family history of certain conditions, such as multiple endocrine neoplasia, Gardner’s syndrome, and familial medullary thyroid carcinoma. 
Many times, thyroid cancer is detected when a doctor finds a lump during a physical examination or when something shows up on an x-ray, so they may not have experienced any symptoms yet. Symptoms of thyroid cancer include:
  • Pain in the neck and ears.
  • A lump or swelling in the neck.
  • Difficulty swallowing.
  • A hoarse voice.
  • Trouble breathing.
  • Wheezing.
  • Coughing. 
  • Treating Thyroid Cancer
  • Thyroid cancer is usually treated with surgery or radioactive iodine. Most people do not require chemotherapy or radiation after treatment. The treatment the doctor uses will depend on things like the person’s age and how advanced the disease is.
If your parent is diagnosed with thyroid cancer, an elderly care provider can help during treatment and recovery. Elderly care providers can drive your parent to medical appointments. They can also assist during your parent’s recovery from surgery by being present and doing things for your parent that they cannot do themselves. Some of the things elderly care providers can do are house cleaning, cooking, and assisting with bathing, toileting, dressing, and other personal care needs.

More information about elderly care.