Thyroid cancer is a uncommon form of cancer caused by abnormal cell growth within the butterfly-shaped thyroid gland located at the base of the neck. With January being Thyroid Health Awareness month, it’s important to understand the warning signs of thyroid cancer.
What does the thyroid do?
The thyroid serves many functions that affect your body’s overall well-being. The thyroid gland is a part of the endocrine system, which consists of glands that manufacture, store and release hormones into the bloodstream to deliver to the body’s cells. The thyroid gland produces two essential hormones: triiodothyronine (T3) and thyroxine (T4). Maintained by the brain and the pituitary glands, these hormones trigger your cells to perform and function at a certain rate. This helps to regulate vital functions like:
- Heart rate
- Central and peripheral nervous system function
- Body weight
- Muscle strength
- Cholesterol levels
- Menstrual cycles
- Body temperature
When thyroid cancer occurs
Thyroid cancer occurs when the thyroid undergoes genetic changes that cause abnormal cells to grow and multiply rapidly within the thyroid gland. Research has yet to determine a clear cause or reason why this happens. Fortunately, thyroid cancer usually has a positive prognosis with early detection.
Warning signs of thyroid cancer
There are a few symptoms that can signal thyroid cancers or other problems are occurring in your thyroid gland. These include:
- Lump or swollen lymph nodes in the neck
- Difficulty breathing or constant wheezing
- Hoarseness or voice changes not associated with a cold
- A persistent cough not associated with a cold
- Neck or ear pain
- Difficulty swallowing
If you are experiencing any of these, it’s important you have your condition evaluated by a physician. To schedule an appointment with the experienced oncologists at The START Center for Cancer Care, call 210-745-6841 today.