Thyroid cancer

Rare tumours of the thyroid gland. In most cases the cause is unknown, although exposure to radioactive fallout increases the risk of developing the condition. There are several types, depending on the type of cells involved. In all of them, however, the first sign is a firm nodule in the neck, which may grow slowly or rapidly. In many cases, the cancer is painless and symptoms such as difficulty swallowing, and hoarseness or loss of voice, only develop when the tumour presses on other structures. A diagnosis is made by thyroid scanning and needle aspiration or a biopsy. A thyroidectomy is usually followed by treatment with radioactive iodine to destroy any residual cancer. Cure rates depend on the cell type and on the size and spread of the tumour when diagnosed. Patients need to take thyroxine for the rest of their lives.


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