The thyroid is a butterfly-shaped gland located in the base of the neck, just below the Adam’s apple. The thyroid gland regulates how the body uses energy. It does so by producing hormones that help the body function normally. These hormones regulate heart rate, blood pressure, body temperature and weight. The thyroid usually cannot be seen or felt. However, changes in the thyroid gland’s size or shape can often be felt by patients or their doctor and could indicate a problem, such as cancer.
Thyroid cancer occurs when abnormal cells begin to grow in the thyroid gland. It is relatively uncommon and usually very treatable. In 2013 over 630,000 people were living with thyroid cancer in the US. However, fewer than 2,000 patients die of thyroid cancer each year. Thyroid cancer is often cured with surgery and/or radioactive iodine. Even if thyroid cancer is more advanced, there are many effective treatments available.
Thyroid cancer does not always cause symptoms. Usually, the first sign of thyroid cancer is a nodule, which feels just like a bump from the outside. Some other common signs and symptoms of thyroid cancer include a hoarse voice or neck pain. Although as much as 75 percent of the population will have thyroid nodules, less than 1 percent of all thyroid nodules are cancerous.
Thyroid cancer can occur at any age, but it is most commonly found in people over the age of 30. Women are three times more likely than males to have thyroid cancer. The most common types of thyroid cancer are papillary and follicular thyroid cancer. These cancers are referred to as differentiated thyroid cancers because the cancer cells look and act like normal thyroid cells in some ways. They are also the most curable types of thyroid cancer.
In younger patients, both papillary and follicular cancers have a more than a 97 percent cure rate if treated appropriately. This is done by completely removing of the lobe of the thyroid that harbors the cancer, in addition to the removal of most or all of the other side.
It is important to have regular exams and have your ENT doctor check your thyroid area on the neck for any enlarged nodes. If you feel or see any enlarged lumps or bumps in your neck, make sure to call your doctor right away.
At ENT Specialists, we are proud to provide in-house extensive services to our patients for thyroid disorders. Our ENT physicians are specially trained in fine needle aspiration (FNA) so patients will not have separate office visits for a biopsy or a trip to the hospital for a biopsy. Our services include a comprehensive work up of the thyroid, including any gland tumors that may exist, in-office ultra sound guided fine needle aspiration (FNA) of thyroid nodules, CT or MRI scans if necessary, treatment and management options, and surgery if recommended.
If you need help diagnosing or managing your thyroid issues, our ENT physicians are here to help you with conservative treatment and management, and surgery if recommended. Please call our office today to schedule a consult.