Thyroid Cancer

Genetic Mutations and Modifications

What is Thyroid Cancer?

Thyroid cancer develops when the cells of the thyroid gland grow and divide in a disorderly way.

The four main types of thyroid cancer are: papillary, follicular, medullary, and anaplastic.

Thyroid Cancer and Genetic Mutations

Many cancers begin when one or more genes in a cell are mutated (changed), creating an abnormal protein or no protein at all. The information provided by an abnormal protein is different from that of a normal protein, which can cause cells to multiply uncontrollably and become cancerous.

A person may either be born with a genetic mutation in all of their cells (germline mutation) or acquire a genetic mutation in a single cell during his or her lifetime. An acquired mutation is passed on to all cells that develop from that single cell (called a somatic mutation). Somatic mutations can sometimes be caused by environmental factors, such as cigarette smoke. Most thyroid cancers are considered sporadic, meaning that the damage to the genes occurs after a person is born and there is no risk of passing on the gene to a person's children. Inherited thyroid cancers are less common (about 10%) and occur when gene mutations are passed within a family from one generation to the next.

Thyroid Cancer- Signs and Symptoms

Thyroid cancer usually develops slowly, without many obvious symptoms.

  • The most common symptom is a painless lump in the neck or throat which may gradually get bigger.
  • You may experience hoarseness and difficulty swallowing or breathing.
  • Other symptoms are swollen lymph glands in your neck that may slowly grow in size over months or years and gastrointestinal changes such as diarrhoea and constipation.

Thyroid Cancer- Treatments

Treatments for thyroid cancer may include:

  • Surgery
  • Thyroid Hormone Replacement Therapy
  • Radioactive Iodine Treatment
  • External Radiotherapy or Chemotherapy