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Thyroid cancer in women rising: know warning signs, causes, tips for treatment



Thyroid cancer is a disease in which malignant (cancer) cells form in the tissues of the thyroid gland. Thyroid nodules are common but usually are not cancer. There are different types of thyroid cancer. Age, gender, and being exposed to radiation can affect the risk of thyroid cancer.

Thyroid cancer cases are rapidly on rise among young people. More common in women than men the cancer starts in the thyroid gland and develops gradually. There are rarely any early signs of this cancer. Fatigue, changes in the skin, hair, nails could be some of the signs. Thyroid cancer usually causes a lump at the base of the neck, swollen lymph nodes, voice changes and trouble in swallowing.

A report by Research Gate states that the relative rise in thyroid cancer incidence among women was 121% in the age group under 30, 107% in the age group of 30-44, 50% in the age group of 45-59, 15% in the age group of 60-74, and 27% in the age group of 75. Similarly, the age group under 45 saw the biggest relative increase in thyroid cancer incidence. Overdiagnosis is the likely cause of India’s alarming surge in thyroid cancer cases.

“Thyroid cancer incidence and prevalence rates have increased among all cancers, not just globally but also in India. The thyroid gland, which produces hormones and is located near the base of the neck, is impacted by thyroid cancer. Over the past 35 years, studies conducted worldwide have revealed a threefold increase of thyroid cancer incidence. Women have thyroid cancer at a rate that is almost four times higher than that of men. Since high-income nations provide the majority of the evidence showing an increase in thyroid cancer, this phenomenon is typically seen as a problem in industrialised nations. Thyroid cancer is the second most prevalent type of cancer in women between the ages of 35 and 60 after breast cancer,” Dr Niti Raizada, Director – Medical Oncology and Hemato-Oncology, Fortis Group of Hospitals, Bangalore told HT Digital.

Dr Raizada also explains in details about thyroid cancer, its types, causes, symptoms and treatment.


What is thyroid cancer

An irregular cell growth that begins in the thyroid gland is called thyroid cancer. At the base of the throat, close to the trachea (windpipe), is a gland called the thyroid. It has a right and a left lobe and is formed like a butterfly. The two lobes are joined by the isthmus, a thin section of tissue. A normal thyroid is around the size of a quarter. It is usually not detectable through the skin. The thyroid produces hormones that regulate body weight, blood pressure, heart rate, blood flow, body temperature, and other factors.

Types of thyroid cancer

Thyroid cancer can be of different forms, namely:

• Differentiated thyroid cancer, which comprises tumours that are well-differentiated, poorly differentiated, and undifferentiated

• Anaplastic thyroid cancer

• Medullary thyroid cancer (a neuroendocrine tumour that develops in thyroid C cells. A hormone [calcitonin] produced by the C cells which aids in preserving a healthy amount of calcium in the blood.)

While some forms of thyroid cancer might be highly aggressive, the majority develop slowly.

Who are at risk for thyroid cancer?

Women are more likely to have thyroid issues than men, which is likely owing to the differing roles of hormones in females and males. According to experts, oestrogen may play a role in this. Normal amounts of oestrogen are higher in the bodies of females.

Symptoms of thyroid cancer

The symptoms for thyroid cancer develop gradually. Most thyroid cancers have no early warning signs or symptoms. The most typical is fatigue. Changes in the hair, nails, or skin may occur, along with other vague complaints that may be brought on by aging, a poor diet, stress, or a set of other circumstances.

Thyroid cancer may cause:

• A nodule (lump) on the neck that can be felt through the skin

• Change in the voice

• Having trouble swallowing

• Lymph nodes on the neck that are swollen

• Throat and neck discomfort

Diagnosis for thyroid cancer

If a woman discovers a lump in the base of her neck, or if a doctor notices a thyroid lesion on an X-ray or CT, the next diagnostic test is usually lab work, followed by an ultrasound, which provides a lot of information about the nodule.

According to medical practitioners, small nodules should be closely monitored. A procedure called fine-needle aspiration may be used to examine larger growths. During this procedure, the doctor takes a sample of cells from the nodule and examines them under a microscope.

Treatment for thyroid cancer

There are numerous therapy options available to thyroid cancer patients. Various treatments, including some standard ones, are being tested in clinical studies (currently used treatments). A clinical trial for treatment is a study conducted to learn more about potential new cancer treatments or to improve cancer patients’ current therapies. If clinical trials show that a new treatment is more effective than the present one, the standard treatment may be replaced. Patients may think about taking part in a clinical trial. Some clinical studies are only open to people who have not started treatment.

Watching for recurrence

Women should check for recurrence of cancer. Monitoring for a recurrence, which indicates that the cancer has returned, is one purpose of follow-up care. Small clusters of cancer cells in the body may go undiagnosed, leading to cancer recurrence. Over time, these cells could multiply to the point where they show up on test results or cause symptoms.

As part of routine follow-up care, some patients could have imaging or blood tests, but the best course of action depends on a number of variables, including the type and stage of cancer that was initially identified as well as the type of treatment used.

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