Thyroid Cancer in Women : A Combination of Genetic & Environmental Factors.

Sonali Kapoor

, Treatments

Is thyroid cancer in women common? Definitely, it is really common for women than men. According to the research, 3:1 is the ratio of women as compared to men who are suffering from it. This gland looks like a small butterfly and thyroid is usually found inside the lower front of your neck. It’s a gland which controls your metabolism. It also releases hormones which do many functions in your body, including how you use energy, how you produce heat, and how you consume oxygen.


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What is Thyroid Cancer?


Thyroid cancer develops when cells change or evolve. The abnormal cells begin multiplying in your thyroid and, once there are enough of them, they form cancer.


What are the Types of Thyroid Cancer?


There are five types of the tumor which are:


1. Papillary Thyroid Cancer:


This is the most common form of tumor, papillary thyroid tumor arises from follicular cells, which produce and store hormones. It can occur at any age, but most often it affects people with age 30 to 50 and can be seen mostly in women.


2. Follicular Thyroid Cancer:


This tumor also arises from the follicular cells of the thyroid. It usually affects people older than age 45 to 50.


3. Medullary Thyroid Cancer:


This cancer begins in thyroid cells called C cells, which produce the hormone calcitonin. Raised levels of calcitonin in the blood can indicate medullary tumor at a very early stage. Specific genetic syndromes increase the risk of medullary tumor.


4. Anaplastic Thyroid Cancer:


This cancer is a rare and rapidly growing cancer which is very difficult to treat. Anaplastic thyroid tumor usually occurs in adults of age 60 and older and more especially in women.


5. Thyroid Lymphoma:


This is a rare form of this cancer which begins in the immune system cells in the cells and grows very quickly. Thyroid lymphoma typically occurs in older adults.


What are the Stages of Thyroid Cancer?


1. Papillary or Follicular Thyroid Cancer


Stage I

Cancer can be of any size. It spreads in nearby tissues or nearby lymph nodes. But it won’t spread to other parts of the body.


Stage II

Cancer is of any size. Cancer may have spread to your lymph nodes. It also spreads to other parts of your body, like your lungs or bones.


2. Papillary or Follicular Cancer


Stage I

You only have cancer in your thyroid. The cancer is about 2 centimeters or smaller.


Stage II

You have cancer in your thyroid. The cancer is about more than 2 centimeters but less than 4 centimeters.


Stage III

The cancer is larger than 4 centimeters and it has spread to tissues near your thyroid, or it’s smaller and it has reached your nearby lymph nodes.


3. Papillary and Follicular Thyroid Cancer, Stage IV


If you are at stage IV, it means cancer has spread totally. Your doctor gives the letters “A,” “B” and “C” to show how far.


Stage IVA


In this stage cancer spread beyond your thyroid. Under the skin, or it affects your larynx, esophagus or trachea. A little tumor in more distant lymph nodes is also considered stage IVA.


Stage IVB


In this stage, cancer is grown towards your spine or into nearby large blood vessels, like the carotid arteries. It carries blood to your brain, face, and neck. It may be also spread to your lymph nodes.


Stage IVC


Cancer has spread over the thyroid and to distant sites of the body. It might be in your lungs, bones, and lymph nodes.


What are the Symptoms of Thyroid Cancer?


There are a few symptoms of the cancer:


1. Neck, throat pain


2. Difficulty swallowing


3. Cough


4. Vocal changes


5. Lump in your neck


6. Swelling in the neck


7. Difficulty in breathing


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What are the Causes of Thyroid Cancer?


This occurs when cells in your thyroid undergo genetic changes. The mutations enable the cells to grow and multiply rapidly. The cells also drop the ability to die, as normal cells would. The accumulating abnormal cells form a tumor. The unusual cells can invade nearby tissue and can spread throughout the body.


What are the Risk Factors of Thyroid Cancer?


Female Sex


It appears more often in women than in men.


Exposure to High Levels of Radiation


Exposure to high levels of radiation includes radiation treatments to the head and neck and fallout from sources such as nuclear power plant accidents or weapons testing.


Certain Inherited Genetic Syndromes


Genetic syndromes that increase the risk of thyroid tumor include familial medullary thyroid tumor and multiple endocrine neoplasias.


What are the Complications of Thyroid Cancer?


Despite treatment, it can return, even if you’ve had your thyroid removed. It happens if microscopic cancer cells spread beyond the thyroid before it’s removed.


Thyroid Tumor may recur in:


1. Lymph nodes in the neck


2. Small pieces of thyroid tissue left behind during surgery


3. Other areas of the body


4. Thyroid tumor that recurs can be treated. Your doctor may suggest periodic blood tests or scans check for signs of its recurrence.


How to Treat Thyroid Cancer?


Thyroid tumor treatment options depend on the type of cancer and stage of cancer,  and your overall health.


1. Surgery:


Surgery is the best option for any type of cancer, it removes cancer from your body through surgery. Most of the people with thyroid tumor experience surgery to remove all or most of the thyroid. Thyroid surgery contains a risk of bleeding and infection. Because there is the risk of accidental damage to the nerves which are connected to your vocal cords, which can cause vocal cord paralysis, hoarseness, soft voice or difficulty breathing.


2. Radiation therapy:


Radiation therapy can also be given externally using a machine which aims high-energy beams, like- X-rays and protons, at precise points on your body (external beam radiation therapy). This therapy is typically taking a few minutes at a time, five days a week, for about five weeks. Radiation therapy is recommended after surgery if there’s an increased risk that your cancer will recur.


3. Chemotherapy:


Chemotherapy is a drug treatment which uses chemicals to kill cancer cells. It is given as an infusion through a vein. The substance travels throughout your body, killing quickly growing cells, including cancer cells.


Chemotherapy is not commonly used in the treatment of thyroid tumor, but it is beneficial for some people who don’t respond to other therapies. For people with an anaplastic thyroid tumor, chemotherapy is combined with radiation therapy.




In the above article, we have talked about thyroid cancer in women and how it is common. It’s stages, types, symptoms, causes, risk factors and treatments are discussed above. If you ever start feeling any of the above symptoms of thyroid tumor, consult a doctor as earlier as you can. On the right stage, it can be cured.


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