Know The Risk Factors For Hypothyroidism And Thyroid Cancer
They may not be considered preventable, but hypothyroidism and thyroid cancer share a few risk factors that could increase your likelihood of developing either condition and make you more vigilant about watching for them.
Most people diagnosed with thyroid cancer are 40 or older. Although those diagnosed with hypothyroidism are typically older than 60, both conditions are more common among women than men.
Exposure to radiation is another risk factor for both hypothyroidism and thyroid cancer. “Thyroid cancer is associated with a history of ionizing radiation exposure such as radiation used to treat acne or enlarged adenoids in the 1950s or mantle radiation used to treat lymphoma,” notes Dr. Sullivan.
Research has shown that radioactive fallout from nuclear weapons or power plant accidents have increased children’s risk for thyroid cancer. Anyone who has received radiation to the thyroid, neck, or chest is also at greater risk for hypothyroidism.
If you have a family history of thyroid disease, you’re also at greater risk for hypothyroidism. In addition, certain inherited conditions or a family history of the disease have been linked to thyroid cancer.
A thyroid condition known as Hashimoto’s thyroiditis is associated with an increased risk for thyroid cancer. This autoimmune disease is also the most common cause of hypothyroidism. With Hashimoto’s, the immune system makes antibodies that damage the thyroid and interfere with its ability to release thyroid hormone.
Things You Should Know If You Have A Thyroidectomy
I’ve treated hundreds of thyroid patients in my clinical practice and I’ve run into many patients without a thyroid.;
These patients are certainly more difficult to treat than run of the mill thyroid patients but I’ve learned much in my years of treating them.;
While they are more difficult, it’s still possible to help them lose weight and feel better.;
It just takes the right approach…;
With that in mind, here are 5 things that I think you should know if you’ve had your thyroid removed based on THIS experience.;
#1. You are now HYPOTHYROID.;
This is probably the single most important thing that you understand if your thyroid has been removed.;
Once your thyroid is removed you are now considered to be HYPOTHYROID.;
It doesn’t matter WHY your thyroid was removed, once it is removed you now have a sluggish thyroid.;
I don’t care if your thyroid was removed because you WERE hyperthyroid .;
Thyroid removal is considered to be a cure for hyperthyroidism but once your thyroid is out you’ve effectively traded hyperthyroidism for hypothyroidism.;
What does it mean to be hypothyroid?
It means that you are reliant upon thyroid medication.;
And because doctors do a terrible job at replacing lost thyroid hormone once the thyroid has been removed, you will probably always feel a little bit hypothyroid .;
This is so important because many people will read my blog posts and if they’ve had their thyroid removed they will ask if it applies to them.;
#2. T4 isn’t enough by itself for you.;
Why Is Hypothyroidism So Under Diagnosed In The Usa
Many symptoms of thyroid imbalance are vague and most doctors spend only a few minutes talking with patients to sort out the cause of their complaint.
Most conventional doctors use only one or two tests to screen for problems. They are not checking FT3, RT3 or thyroid antibodies.
Most conventional doctors use the normal lab reference range as their guide only. Rather than listening to their patients symptoms, they use optimal lab values and temperature as their guide.
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Talk To An Oncologist About Your Symptoms
If you want to know more about the effects of thyroid cancer, you are encouraged to talk with an oncologist who specializes in treating the condition. At Moffitt Cancer Center, patients can consult with experienced endocrinologists, medical oncologists, radiation oncologists, head and neck surgeons and otolaryngologists in a single location. No referral is required to request an appointment; call or submit a new patient registration form online.
What To Do Next
If there is asymmetry between sides or any out-of-place bumps near your thyroid gland that become apparent when you swallow, you need to discuss your findings with a doctor. An endocrinologist specializes in evaluating and treating glands like the thyroid and would be able to confirm whether or not you have thyroid cancer or another thyroid disorder.
Here is a short video with a demonstration of the thyroid self check:
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Get A Cup Of Water And A Mirror
Fill a cup with water and stand in front of a well-lit mirror that offers a good view of your entire throat, from collarbone to chin. Know the area you will be checkingyour thyroid rests above your collarbone and hugs your throat in the shape of a small butterfly, just below the larynx, right around the bottom one-third of your throat.
Are There Different Kinds Of Thyroid Cancer
There are 4 main types of thyroid cancer. They are listed below. Your doctor can tell you more about the kind you have.
- Papillary thyroid cancer is the most common kind of thyroid cancer. It may also be called differentiated thyroid cancer. This kind tends to grow very slowly and is most often in only one lobe of the thyroid gland. Even though they grow slowly, papillary cancers often spread to the lymph nodes in the neck.
- Follicular cancer is the next most common type. Its more common in countries where people dont get enough iodine in their diet. These cancers do not tend to spread to lymph nodes, but they can spread to other parts of the body, like the lungs or bones.
- Medullary cancer is a rare type of thyroid cancer. It starts in a group of thyroid cells called C-cells. C-cells make calcitonin, a hormone that helps control the amount of calcium in the blood.
- Anaplastic cancer is a rare type of thyroid cancer. It often spreads quickly into the neck and to other parts of the body, and is very hard to treat.
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When To See A Doctor
If you feel a new swelling or lump in your neck, or if an imaging test incidentally reveals a thyroid growth, it’s important to schedule an appointment with your doctor right away.
During your appointment, your doctor will:
- Perform a physical examination, including a neck examination
- Order an ultrasound of your thyroid
- Check blood tests that may include a thyroid-stimulating hormone , free thyroxine , and thyroid antibodies
Depending on the results of these tests, your primary care or family doctor may refer you to a doctor who specializes in thyroid care . An endocrinologist may take another look at the thyroid nodule with ultrasound in his or her office and perform a fine-needle aspiration biopsy to see whether cancer cells are present.
Thyroid Cancer Doctor Discussion Guide
Get our printable guide for your next doctor’s appointment to help you ask the right questions.
The diagnosis of thyroid cancer has been on the rise both in the United States and worldwide, due in large part to the sophistication of high-resolution imaging tests. In other words, these thyroid nodules that would never have been found years ago are now being identified.
While the majority of these small nodules end up not being cancer, determining which ones are is keyâthis is because most thyroid cancers are curable, especially those that are small and have not spread.
Symptoms Of Thyroid Cancer
Be on the lookout for the following symptoms, as they may indicate the presence of a thyroid tumor:
- Lumps in the neck, sometimes painful
- Soreness in the neck, potentially radiating up to the ears
- Difficulty swallowing or breathing
- A chronically raspy or hoarse voice
- Coughing not due to sickness or other causes like smoking
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What Are The Symptoms Of Thyroid Cancer
Heres the really tricky part: Most people with thyroid cancer are completely asymptomatic, says Dr. Tuttle, which is why a good portion of thyroid cancers are detected during other screenings. For the more aggressive and advanced thyroid cancers, however, there aresome signs to watch for. These symptoms are very rare, so if youre experiencing them, head to your doctor right away.
When To Get Medical Advice
See a GP if you have symptoms of thyroid cancer. The symptoms may;be caused;by less serious conditions, such as an enlarged thyroid , so it’s important to get them checked.
A GP will examine your neck and can organise a blood test;to check how well your thyroid is working.
If they think you could have cancer or they’re not sure what’s causing your symptoms, you’ll be referred to a hospital specialist for;more tests.
Find out more about how thyroid cancer is diagnosed.
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Weakness And Aches In Muscles And Joints
Low thyroid hormone flips the metabolic switch toward catabolism, which is when the body breaks down body tissues like muscle for energy .
During catabolism, muscle strength decreases, potentially leading to feelings of weakness. The process of breaking down muscle tissue can also lead to aching .
Everyone feels weak once in a while. However, people with hypothyroidism are twice as likely to feel more weak than usual, compared to healthy people (
One study in 35 individuals with hypothyroidism showed that replacing low levels of thyroid hormone with a synthetic thyroid hormone called levothyroxine improved muscle strength and decreased aches and pains, compared to no treatment .
Another study showed a 25% improvement in the sense of physical well-being among patients receiving thyroid replacement .
Weakness and aches are normal following strenuous activity. However, new, and especially increasing, weakness or aching is a good reason to make an appointment with your physician.
Summary: Low levels of thyroid hormone slow down your metabolism and can cause painful muscle breakdown.
Thyroid Nodule Symptom # : A Lump In The Neck That You Can See Or Other People Can See
- What to do about it?
Thyroid nodules that the patient can see, or somebody else can see should almost always be examined by an ultrasound test. Depending on the characteristics of the nodule , the nodule may need a needle biopsy. Almost all thyroid nodules that can be seen should have a FNA thyroid needle biopsy.
Thyroid Nodule Symptom # : A Sense That You Need To Swallow Something
- What to do about it?
Like all thyroid nodules that cause symptoms, these patients need a thyroid ultrasound to look at the size, location, and characteristics of the thyroid, how many noduls are present, and where they are located. Often thyroid glands that are big won’t have any ultrasound characteristics that are worrisome for cancer, so most of theses do not need a FNA thyroid needle biopsy. Thus big thyroids comprised of lots of nodules often don’t need a biopsy, which is in direct contrast to nodules that are single, or those that can be seen or felt . However, if a thyroid is big enough that it is causing the patient to be aware of it, and it is causing symptoms of something stuck in the throat, then surgery is probably necessary. Remember, thyroid surgery isn’t just for nodules that we think may be thyroid cancer, surgery is often necessary for benign, non-cancerous thyroid glands which are large and causing the patient symptoms. This situation is quite common. It is also important to know that large thyroid goiters, and nodules that are on the back side of the thyroid are often required to have a CAT scan, since these bigger thyroid glands are not seen as well with ultrasound. This is why you need a good endocrinologist who know which scan to order and which scans are not necessary. Remember, a large thyroid is called a goiter and we have an entire page on thyroid goiters.
The Often Overlooked Warning Signs Of Thyroid Cancer
The American Cancer Society estimates that in 2020, approximately 52,890 new cases of thyroid cancer will be diagnosed and that there will be approximately 2,180 deaths from thyroid cancer. While most thyroid cancer is found by accident, there are warning signs you should be aware of for a better chance of early detection.
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What It’s Really Like To Have Thyroid Cancer
My year with a so-called “good” cancer.
About a little over a year ago, I found myself reclined in an exam chair about to have a big needle jabbed into my neck.
Big pinch, the doctor said, as he gave me the local anesthetic. I just stared at the ceiling, trying to remain calm despite the fear and the burning bee sting sensation.
I spent the previous evening drinking wine and Googling, cancer in your neck,biopsy needle,lump in neck, and thyroid cancer deathwhile my six-year-old son, Jack, and our brand new Golden Retriever puppy, Lucia, slept peacefully unaware that their single mom had a very suspicious 4-centimeter lump on her thyroid gland. Two weeks prior, my regular doctor had discovered the lump during a routine physical. An ultrasound and CT scan later, this needle was to determine whether it was cancer.
But it didn’t.
That’s the first thing I learned about having cancer: it can take an awfully long time to confirm that you actually have it.
Types Of Thyroid Cancer
There are 4;main types of thyroid cancer. They are:
- papillary carcinoma this is the most common type, accounting for about 6 out of 10; cases; it usually affects people under the age of 40, particularly women
- follicular carcinoma accounts for around;3 out of 20 cases of thyroid cancer and tends to affect older adults
- medullary thyroid carcinoma accounts for between 5 and 8 out of every 100 diagnosed cases ; unlike the other types of thyroid cancer, medullary thyroid carcinoma;can run in families;
- anaplastic thyroid carcinoma this is the rarest and most aggressive type of thyroid cancer, accounting for less than 1;in 20 thyroid cancers; it usually affects older people over the age of 60;
Papillary and follicular carcinomas are sometimes known as differentiated thyroid cancers, and they’re often treated in the same way.
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What Happens During The History And Physical Exam For Thyroid Cancer Diagnosis
During the history, a medical professional will ask questions about risk factors like radiation exposure and thyroid cancer in other family members. ;
During the physical exam, a medical professional will check the thyroid nodule size, how firm it feels, and for swelling of nearby lymph nodes. ;
A medical professional will also ask and look for signs and symptoms of too much or too little thyroid hormone activity . ;These changes usually suggest that the thyroid nodule is NOT a cancer.
A Change In Calcium Levels
The parathyroid glands can be affected by thyroid surgery. These are small delicate glands that are right next to the thyroid gland. They help to control the level of calcium in your blood.
If the parathyroid glands are not working properly, your blood calcium levels can fall below normal. You will need to take calcium tablets and possibly extra vitamin D if this happens.;
If you have a low calcium level in your blood, you may have twitching or jerking muscles . Contact your healthcare team if you have this. It is usually only temporary and the parathyroids normally start working again within 6 to 8 weeks of the operation. But low calcium levels can sometimes be permanent.
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Trouble Concentrating Or Remembering
Many patients with hypothyroidism complain of mental fogginess and trouble concentrating. The way this mental fogginess presents itself varies by person.
In one study, 22% of low-thyroid individuals described increased difficulty doing everyday math, 36% described thinking more slowly than usual and 39% reported having a poorer memory .
In another study of 14 men and women with untreated hypothyroidism, the participants showed difficulty remembering verbal cues .
The causes for this are not yet fully understood, but difficulties in memory improve with treatment of low thyroid hormone .
Difficulties in memory or concentration can happen to everyone, but if they are sudden or severe, they could be a signal of hypothyroidism.
Summary: Hypothyroidism can cause mental fogginess and difficulty concentrating. It may also impair certain kinds of memory.
Signs And Symptoms Of Hypothyroidism
Thyroid disorders are common. In fact, about 12% of people will experience abnormal thyroid function at some point during their lives.
Women are eight times more likely to develop a thyroid disorder than men. Also, thyroid problems increase with age and may affect adults differently than children.
At the most basic level, thyroid hormone is responsible for coordinating energy, growth and metabolism in your body.
Problems can occur when this hormones levels are too high or low.
Hypothyroidism, or low levels of thyroid hormone, slows your metabolism and decreases growth or repair of many parts of the body.
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What Is The Treatment For Hyperthyroidism
Hyperthyroidism is treated with medications, radioiodine, or surgery.;
Medications used to treat hyperthyroidism include:;
- Antithyroid drugs that work by decreasing how much thyroid hormone the body makes
Is It Thyroid Disease Or Thyroid Cancer
For all thyroid conditions, Sullivan says that early detection and treatment are essential. “It is not possible to tell if a lump in the thyroid is cancerous without an ultrasound exam and a fine needle aspiration biopsy,” he points out. An ultrasound can help determine if a thyroid nodule is solid or filled with fluid and provide clues about whether or not it’s cancer.
For definitively diagnosing thyroid cancer, you’ll need to have a biopsy. For this procedure, your doctor will use a needle to draw out cells from the suspicious area of your thyroid. The cells will then be examined under a microscope. Sullivan notes that it’s sometimes necessary to remove a lump to determine if it is cancerous.
The good news is that thyroid conditions, such as hypothyroidism and thyroid cancer, are treatable. In most cases, hypothyroidism can be completely controlled with daily medication. And, the cure rate for thyroid cancer, which typically includes removing the gland, is more than 90 percent.
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