Understanding the Link Between Thyroid Nodules and Thyroid Cancer
The thyroid is a gland in the neck that regulates key body functions, including metabolism. In some cases, a thyroid nodule is detected through a physical exam, imaging test, or laboratory tests. Thyroid nodules are often noncancerous (benign) growths, or tumors, in the wall of the thyroid, but they can indicate cancer too. Knowing the relationship between thyroid nodules and thyroid cancer can help you to understand the purpose of getting screened and receiving a timely diagnosis.
Nodules and Thyroid Cancer
Thyroid cancer is relatively uncommon, but it’s important to recognize the signs and symptoms:
- Hoarseness – Voice changes associated with hoarseness can be the result of thyroid nodules.
- Pain – Pain in the throat or neck region is often linked to thyroid nodules.
- Difficulty Swallowing – It’s not uncommon for nodules to cause difficulty swallowing food, liquids, and even saliva.
- Enlargement – If a nodule is large enough, it can be seen or felt in the throat region.
- Weight Loss – Unexplained weight loss is often the result of an overactive thyroid.
- Difficulty Breathing – If a nodule has grown to a large size, it can interfere with normal breathing.
An imaging test, such as an ultrasound or CT scan, can be used to look for thyroid nodules. If a nodule is found, a biopsy may be recommended in order to check for cancer. The doctor may also order additional blood tests or an aspiration in order to further assess the situation.
Thyroid Cancer Treatment
The treatment for thyroid cancer depends on the type and stage of the cancer. Most cases are treated with surgery to remove the tumor, followed by radiation and/or chemotherapy. If the cancer has spread to other parts of the body, it may require additional treatment.
Importance of Regular Screenings
It is important to note that if a person is at increased risk for developing thyroid cancer, they may need to be screened regularly. This is especially true if they have a family history of the disease or have been exposed to radiation. Regular check-ups and thyroid screenings are also imperative for patients who are experiencing any of the signs and symptoms associated with thyroid nodules.
It’s important for people to be aware of the connection between thyroid nodules and thyroid cancer, as it can lead to early diagnosis and improved treatment outcomes. Regular screenings are essential for monitoring and detecting early signs of disease. If you are currently experiencing any of the signs or symptoms associated with thyroid nodules or have a family history of thyroid cancer, it is important to speak with your doctor about setting up a screening and any potential next steps.