Updated on 4 September 2023
The growth of cells that is traced to the thyroid glands is called thyroid cancer. The thyroid gland is located at the neck base of any individual, right below Adam's apple, and it is shaped like a butterfly. The thyroid gland is concerned with producing hormones that directly impact heart rate regulation, blood pressure, body weight, and body temperature.
Symptoms of thyroid cancer in females may not manifest in the initial stages. But in later stages, these symptoms may range from swelling in the neck to changes in voice. Some even have difficulty swallowing food and liquids. Most types of thyroid cancer have slow growth and may take years to spread. But there are a few types that are extremely aggressive and can prove to be fatal. Luckily, the majority of thyroid cancer types are treatable, if detected early.
Thyroid cancer is more common in women than in men. This can be attributed primarily to the role of hormones that vary in the male and female bodies. Growths in thyroid glands are called nodules, and they can affect up to 80% of women. Fortunately, most thyroid symptoms in females are treatable and only 5 to 15% of these growths are malignant. In case of malignancy, the nodules or cancer cells usually spread to the adjacent lymph nodes. The most common type of thyroid cancer is papillary carcinoma thyroid.
According to experts, better and more accurate testing can help detect symptoms of thyroid cancer in females early on, which helps in better disease management. This has also resulted in more cases, on the flip side, it is said that thyroid cancer is slated to become the third most common cancer type. But the good news is the prognosis is improving and most thyroid cancer patients have a 98% chance of recovery with a survival rate of 20 years. Some medical practitioners are even calling it a chronic condition rather than a disease, which can be managed with medication, regular health checks, and treatment.
Thyroid cancer symptoms in females don't manifest themselves till late. As cancer grows, it may cause symptoms like,
A nodule or lump around the neck that can be felt with bare hands.
A feeling of tightening around the neck.
Voice changes like it becoming more hoarse.
Enlarged lymph nodes in the neck.
Thyroid cancer can be detected by individuals themselves if they know the symptoms of thyroid cancer properly. For example, if a woman notices the formation of a lump or lesion around the neck base, it is best to consult a doctor. The doctor will, in all likelihood, run a CT scan or X-ray to ascertain the exact nature of the lump. This is usually followed by an ultrasound to unearth more information about the growth on the neck.
Sometimes, small nodules may also develop in the neck. Doctors might advise that they be observed closely before running tests. If they grow in size, they can be tested with fine-needle aspiration. This procedure involves collecting cell samples from the nodule or lump with the help of a needle and checking them under the microscope in a lab. 70% of nodule biopsies reveal that they are benign. Sometimes these biopsies may also be inconclusive. But there are those 5% cases when the presence of cancerous cells is detected.
Surgery is the most common and preferred treatment when it comes to dealing with symptoms of thyroid cancer in females. The affected lymph nodes are usually removed surgically so that the body is rid of the cancer cells. Post-surgery, the patient will have to take thyroid hormones to make up for the loss of the gland. Patients also need to undergo radioactive iodine treatment to ensure that there are no cancer cells left behind.
The traditional surgical method of removing the thyroid gland in the case of thyroid cancer is called thyroidectomy. Like any other surgery, it leaves a visible scar in the neck area. So, a lot of patients do not prefer surgical treatment. As an alternative, one can opt for a scarless thyroidectomy in which the thyroid gland is removed through the mouth. This does not require any incision on the neck.
Recovery after surgery may take weeks or sometimes even months. Women are advised a lot of rest to avoid developing any infections. They also need to adjust their bodies to the new thyroid medication that helps to recover from the loss of the gland
1. Nguyen QT, Lee EJ, Huang MG, Park YI, Khullar A, Plodkowski RA. (2015) Feb Diagnosis and treatment of patients with thyroid cancer.
2. Bogović Crnčić T, Ilić Tomaš M, Girotto N, Grbac Ivanković S.(2020) Risk Factors for Thyroid Cancer: What Do We Know So Far? Acta Clin Croat.
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