Living with Thyroid Cancer

Living With Thyroid Cancer

Thyroid cancer is cancer of the thyroid, the hormone-producing organ that helps control weight, blood pressure, heart rate, and body temperature. Of the four types of thyroid cancer, papillary is the most common type, affecting approximately 80% of patients. It does not grow rapidly or spread quickly to surrounding tissue. 10 to 15% of thyroid cancers are follicular, which can travel through the bloodstream to other areas of the body. Medullary and anaplastic are the rarest forms of thyroid cancer. Nearly 50,000 new cases of thyroid cancer are diagnosed in the United States each year; however, with the exception of anaplastic thyroid cancer, most cases are diagnosed early and have a five-year survival rate approaching 100%.

Thyroid cancer usually occurs in people aged 20 to 55, which is younger than other adult cancers. Risk factors include sex – nearly two thirds of patients are female – as well as radiation exposure, diets low in iodine, a family history of thyroid cancer, and being of Asian decent. Symptoms include pain in the neck and throat, difficulty swallowing, hoarseness, and a bump or lump on the neck. The stages of thyroid cancer range from I to IV, depending on tumor size and how widely it may have spread. Thyroid cancer treatments include surgery, chemotherapy, radiation, radioactive iodine, hormone therapy, or a combination of these.

For more information on thyroid cancer, read the American Cancer Society's detailed guide.

If you have been affected by thyroid cancer, please be sure to take some time to read others' experiences, share your own experiences, and ask or answer questions. Don't forget to view our Beginner's Guide to Cancer.

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