Thyroid Cancer

By Julia Brogioli and Jacob Alger

What is Thyroid cancer?

Thyroid Cancer is a disease caused by an uncontrolled division of abnormal cells in a certain spot of the body. This takes place in the thyroid gland, which is located

on the windpipe, below the larynx.

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What are the symptoms of this cancer? How does it impact the people it affects?

The body will show symptoms or signs of the cancer. The best way to treat thyroid cancer is by recognizing it early before it spreads throughout the thyroid gland and other areas of the neck. Living with thyroid cancer can be painful and may affect peoples daily lives. Some of these signs and symptoms include;

  • A persistent cough that is not due to a cold
  • raspy or light voice changes that do not disappear
  • difficult time swallowing
  • difficult time breathing
  • Pain that lies within the neck and occasionally in the ear
  • swelling in the neck
  • fast growing lump in neck

How prevalent is this cancer?

11 in every 100,000 Americans are diagnosed a year with thyroid cancer. All though this number may seem low, it is growing and has gotten substantially larger than in years past. Its prevalence is growing in the US.

How is it diagnosed?

Once a person shows symptoms of thyroid cancer, their doctor will ask about the patient's family and personal medical history. A series of tests or exams may follow including;

  • physical exam
  • blood test
  • Ultrasonography
  • Radionuclide scanning
  • biopsy
  • fine-needle aspiration
  • surgical biopsies.

What are the possible causes of this type of cancer?

Thyroid cancer can be traced to numerous inherited conditions. Specific changes in an individual's DNA, the chemical in each of our cells that generates our genes, can cause the cells in the thyroid to become cancerous.

What happens at the cellular and molecular level?

What happens at the cellular and molecular level? the cells in from the thyroid cancer have the ability to travel to the neck and chest areas. There are ways to determine if the cancer has metastasized (spread to) other organs of the body. Common areas Thyroid cancer spreads to are the lungs, the liver, and bones.

What are treatments? What are the cures?

Treatments differ due to different types of thyroid cancer and its stage. Papillary thyroid cancer is the easiest to treat, and follicular thyroid cancer is easy to treat but harder to control if the cancer has already spread to blood vessels or nearby structures in the neck. Medullary thyroid cancer can be treated but is harder because it often travels quickly to other areas of the body. Anaplastic thyroid cancer is the hardest to treat because it grows the fastest and normally responds badly to all possible treatments. Thyroid cancer, like other cancers is easiest to treat when found early before it spreads throughout the body. Treatments include;

  • surgical removal of cancer
  • external beam radiation therapy
  • chemotherapy
  • radioactive hormone therapy


  • "Thyroid Cancer." Thyroid Cancer. The American Cancer Society, n.d. Web.
  • "Thyroid Cancer." Charles Scribner's Sons, 2010. Web. 16 Dec. 2015.
  • Longe, Jacqueline. "Thyroid Cancer." Science in Context. The Gale Encyclopedia of Medicine, n.d. Web.
  • What You Need To Know About Thyroid Cancer. N.p.: n.p., Health and Human Services Department, Sept. 2001. Web. 16 Dec. 2015.