Thyroid cancer refers to the malignant tumors of the thyroid gland. Cancers of the thyroid are usually classified according to their pathological characteristics. According to this classification the four malignant tumors of the thyroid are papillary, follicular, medullary and anaplastic. Thyroid adenoma is a benign tumor of the thyroid.
Papillary and follicular are common tumors. These two types of tumors grow slowly and may recur. Normally, they are not deadly in patients aged 45 and below. Medullary tumors are relatively easy to treat when still localized but are usually hard to treat when metastasis occurs. Anaplastic tumors grow very fast and respond poorly to therapy
The first symptom of thyroid cancer is usually a nodule in the thyroid region of the neck. The other symptoms are pain in the anterior region of the neck as well as changes in the voice. A physical examination is usually done to confirm the presence of a nodule and after which the patient is referred to either an endocrinologist or a thyroidologist. An ultrasound is usually done to confirm the presence of the nodule and after which an assessment of the whole gland is done.
A fine needle biopsy is used to determine if the nodule is malignant. This biopsy is normally accurate and affordable. A blood test may also be done before instead of the biopsy and may be accompanied by an ultrasound imaging of the nodule. The imaging helps to determine the position, size and the texture of the nodule. Radioactive iodine is commonly commonly used to treat thyroid cancer and is usually followed by thyroxin therapy.