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All about thyroid cancer types of thyroid cancer causes of thyroid cancer thyroid cancer symptoms risk factors for thyroid cancer diagnosis of thyroid cancer treatment for thyroid cancer prevention of thyroid cancer

What causes thyroid cancer?

Although the exact cause of thyroid cancer has not yet been determined, it has been observed that thyroid cancer affects women three times as often as it affects men. The rate of thyroid cancer is also higher in whites than in African Americans.

Exposure to radiation during childhood is a known risk factor for thyroid cancer. In the 1950s and 1960s, radiation was used to treat acne and to reduce swelling and infection of organs in the neck, such as the tonsils, adenoids, and lymph nodes. Recent studies have proved that people who received radiation to the head and neck during their childhood have a higher than average chance of developing thyroid cancer.

In areas of the world where people's diets are low in iodine, papillary and follicular cancers occur more frequently. In the United States, dietary iodine is plentiful because it is added to table salt and other foods. The thyroid contains two main types of cells. Follicle cells make the thyroid protein thyroglobulin and produce and store thyroxine and triiodothyronine. Other cells, called C cells (parafollicular cells), produce calcitonin. Distinguishing between these cells is important because each can give rise to different types of cancer. Papillary and follicular cancers develop in follicle cells. They account for the great majority of thyroid cancers, can usually be completely removed with surgery and generally result in an excellent prognosis. Medullary cancer, on the other hand, arises in the thyroid's C cells and is generally more aggressive and harder to treat than papillary and follicular cancers.

More information on thyroid cancer

What is thyroid cancer? - Thyroid cancer is a disease in which the thyroid cells become abnormal, grow uncontrollably, and form tumors.
What types of thyroid cancer are there? - There are four major types of thyroid cancer: papillary thyroid cancer, follicular thyroid cancer, medullary thyroid cancer, and anaplastic thyroid cancer.
What causes thyroid cancer? - Doctors do not know what causes most cases of thyroid cancer. Exposure to radiation during childhood is a known risk factor for thyroid cancer.
What're the symptoms of thyroid cancer? - The most common symptom of thyroid cancer is a lump, or nodule, that can be felt in the neck. Other symptoms are rare.
What're the risk factors for thyroid cancer? - Risk factors for thyroid cancer include radiation, family history, genetic conditions, sex, reproductive history.
How is thyroid cancer diagnosed? - A test known as the calcitonin test may be ordered if medullary thyroid cancer is suspected. Imaging tests identify any abnormal areas in the thyroid.
What's the treatment for thyroid cancer? - Treatment for thyroid cancer depends on the type of cancer and its stage. Surgery is the most common form of treatment for thyroid cancer.
How to prevent thyroid cancer? - Because many people develop thyroid cancer without having any known risk factors for the illness, this form of cancer is hard to prevent.
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All information is intended for reference only. Please consult your physician for accurate medical advices and treatment. Copyright 2005,, all rights reserved. Last update: July 18, 2005