Several years after the 1986 disaster at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant in Ukraine, the incidence of thyroid cancer rose among local children. Local authorities have recognized only thyroid cancer as being caused by the nuclear accident.
The butterfly-shaped thyroid gland is located just below the Adam’s apple and is attached to the trachea. The thyroid gland produces thyroid hormone by absorbing iodine, which is contained in foods such as kombu seaweed.
If a person breathes in or absorbs radioactive iodine through food and drink, 10 to 30 percent of this iodine is said to accumulate in the thyroid.
The symptoms of hyperthyroidism tend to come on slowly, and they vary from person to person. It’s not always obvious that symptoms, such as excess thirst or an increased appetite, are an indication that something is wrong. Often, people don’t see a doctor until they experience palpitations or shortness of breath. The following sections describe both the classic symptoms most typically experienced in hyperthyroidism and the symptoms more commonly encountered by older people.
Common Symptoms of Hyperthyroidism
The following are the most common signs and symptoms experienced by people with hyperthyroidism.
• Enlarged thyroid gland. As your thyroid produces more and more hormone, your thyroid enlarges and can protrude from your neck to form a goiter. If the goiter is noticeable
enough, it may feel lumpy.
• Heat intolerance. A speeded-up metabolism leads to an increase in your body temperature. You may be the only one in the room who wants to open a window, or you may find yourself in short sleeves while others are wearing sweaters.
• Exhaustion. Your body is perpetually in overdrive, which essentially tires out every one of its systems. You may find yourself out of breath after crossing the street or climbing
• Emotional changes. Your body’s exhausted state coupled with an overstimulated central nervous system can lead to a variety of emotional changes, such as anxiety intermixed
with depression, insomnia, and irritability.
• Perspiration and thirst. As your body temperature rises, your sweat glands tend to overproduce and you feel the need to continually replenish fluids.
• Constant hunger. As your body uses up energy, it tends to cry out for more, which can lead to an insatiable appetite.
A risk factor is anything that affects a person’s chance of getting a disease such as cancer.
Different cancers have different risk factors. For example, smoking is a risk factor for cancers of the lung, mouth, larynx (voice box), bladder, kidney, and several other organs. But risk factors don’t tell us everything. Having a risk factor, or even several risk factors, does not mean that you will get the disease. And many people who get the disease may not have had any known risk factors. Even if a person with thyroid cancer has a risk factor, it is very hard to know how much that risk factor may have contributed to the cancer.
Scientists have found a few risk factors that make a person more likely to develop thyroid cancer.
Gender and age
For unclear reasons thyroid cancers (like almost all diseases of the thyroid) occur about 3
times more often in women than in men. Thyroid cancer can occur at any age, but the risk peaks earlier for women (who are most often in their 40s or 50s when diagnosed) than for men (who are usually in their 60s or 70s).
A diet low in iodine
Follicular thyroid cancers are more common in areas of the world where people’s diets are low in iodine. In the United States, most people get enough iodine in their diet because it is added to table salt and other foods. A diet low in iodine may also increase the risk of papillary cancer if the person also is exposed to radioactivity.
Exposure to radiation is a proven risk factor for thyroid cancer. Sources of such radiation
include certain medical treatments and radiation fallout from power plant accidents or nuclear weapons. Having had head or neck radiation treatments in childhood is a risk factor for thyroid
cancer. Risk depends on how much radiation is given and the age of the child. In general, the risk increases with larger doses and with younger age at treatment. Before the 1960s, children were sometimes treated with low doses of radiation for things we wouldn’t use radiation for now, like acne, fungus infections of the scalp (ringworm), an enlarged thymus gland, or enlarged tonsils or adenoids. Years later, the people who had these treatments were found to have a higher risk of thyroid cancer. Radiation therapy in childhood for some cancers such as lymphoma, Wilms tumor, and neuroblastoma also increases risk. Thyroid cancers associated with prior radiation therapy are not more serious than other thyroid cancers.
Several studies have pointed to an increased risk of thyroid cancer in children because of radioactive fallout from nuclear weapons or power plant accidents. For instance, thyroid cancer is several times more common than normal in children living near Chernobyl, the site of a 1986 nuclear plant accident that exposed millions of people to radioactivity. Adults involved with the cleanup after the accident and those who lived near the plant have also had a higher rate of thyroid cancer. Children who had more iodine in their diet appeared to have a lower risk.
Some radioactive fallout occurred over certain regions of the United States after nuclear weapons were tested in western states during the 1950s. This exposure was much, much lower than that around Chernobyl. A higher risk of thyroid cancer has not been proven at these low exposure levels. If you are concerned about possible exposure to radioactive fallout, discuss this with your doctor.
Hereditary conditions and family history
Several inherited conditions have been linked to different types of thyroid cancer.
Many cases of thyroid cancer can be found early. In fact, most thyroid cancers are now found much earlier than in the past and can be treated successfully. Most early thyroid cancers are found when patients ask their doctors about neck lumps or nodules they have noticed. Others are found by health care professionals during a routine checkup. Although it’s unusual, some thyroid cancers may not cause symptoms until after they reach an advanced stage. If you have unusual symptoms such as a lump or swelling in your neck, you should see your doctor right away. During routine physical exams, be sure your doctor does a cancer-related checkup that includes the thyroid. Some doctors recommend that people examine their own necks twice a year to look for any growths or lumps.
Early thyroid cancers are sometimes found when people have ultrasound tests for other health problems, such as narrowing of carotid arteries (which pass through the neck to supply blood to the brain) or for enlarged or overactive parathyroid glands. Although blood tests or thyroid ultrasound often find changes in the thyroid, these tests are not recommended as screening tests for thyroid cancer unless there is a reason (such as family history) to suspect a person is at increased risk for thyroid cancer.
People with a family history of medullary thyroid carcinoma (MTC), with or without type 2 multiple endocrine neoplasia (MEN 2), may be at very high risk for developing this cancer. Most doctors recommend genetic testing for these people when they are young to see if they carry the gene changes linked to MTC. For people who may be at risk but don’t get genetic testing, blood tests are available that can help find MTC at an early stage, when it may still be curable. Thyroid ultrasounds may also be done in high-risk people.
I. The Thyroid
The thyroid gland is a butterfly- shaped endocrine gland located at the lower front of the neck, fronting the trachea and the larynx. The thyroid gland works by producing thyroid hormones. These hormones will then be stored in the gland and will be released in the bloodstream and to every body tissues when the need arises. In addition, thyroid hormones are important material for the body organs to do their job. For example, the thyroid hormones stimulate metabolic processes making the body use energy.
II. Its function
The thyroid glands main function is to secrete its thyroid hormones namely thyroxine, with four iodine atoms and triiodothyronine, with three iodine atoms. The thyroid gland produces more of the T4 hormones. For this hormone to take effect, it is converted to T3 hormone by giving off one of its iodine atom. These hormones are essential for other body organs to function properly.
III. Thyroid function test
Thyroid function tests are done to evaluate the thyroid gland whether it functions properly. Eventually, results will serve as guide for individuals how to improve thyroid functions. There are thyroid function blood test available and are widely used. Some of it includes the TSH test, T4 test and T3 test.