Prompt attention to signs and symptoms is the best way to diagnose most thyroid cancers early. Thyroid cancer can cause any of the following signs or symptoms:
- A nodule, lump, or swelling in the neck, sometimes growing rapidly
- Pain in the front of the neck, sometimes going up to the ears
- Hoarseness or other voice changes that do not go away
- Trouble swallowing
- Breathing problems (feeling as if one were “breathing through a straw”)
- A constant cough that is not due to a cold
If you have any of these signs or symptoms, talk to your doctor right away. Many noncancerous conditions (and some other cancers of the neck area) can cause some of the same symptoms. Thyroid nodules are common and are usually benign. Still, if you have any of these problems, it’s important to see your doctor right away so the cause can be found and treated, if needed.
Medical history and physical exam
If you have any signs or symptoms that suggest you might have thyroid cancer, your health care professional will want to get your complete medical history. You will be asked questions about your possible risk factors, symptoms, and any other health problems or concerns. If someone in your family has had thyroid cancer (especially medullary thyroid cancer) or tumors called pheochromocytomas, it is important to tell your doctor, as you might be at high risk for this disease. A physical exam will give your doctor more information about possible signs of thyroid
cancer and other health problems. During the exam, your doctor will pay special attention to the size and firmness of your thyroid and any enlarged lymph nodes in your neck.
The actual diagnosis of thyroid cancer is made from the results of a biopsy, in which cells from the suspicious area are removed and looked at under a microscope. The simplest way to find out if a thyroid lump or nodule is cancerous is with a fine needle aspiration(FNA) of the thyroid nodule. This type of biopsy can usually be done in your doctor’s office or clinic. Your doctor will place a thin, hollow needle directly into the nodule to take out (aspirate) cells and a few drops of fluid into a syringe. The doctor usually repeats this 2 or 3 times during the same appointment to take samples from several areas of the nodule. The cells can then be looked at under a microscope to see if they look cancerous or benign. Before the biopsy, local anesthesia (numbing medicine) may be injected into the skin over the nodule, but in some cases an anesthetic may not be needed at all. A potential complication of the biopsy is prolonged bleeding, but this is rare except in people with bleeding disorders. Be sure to tell your doctor if you have a bleeding disorder. This test is generally done on all thyroid nodules that are big enough to be felt. This means that they are larger than about 1 centimeter (about 1/2 inch) across. If a nodule is too small for the doctor to feel, sometimes FNA biopsies can be done using an ultrasound machine to help the doctor find the right place to put the needle.
About 2 tests in every 10 may need to be repeated because the sample ends up not containing enough cells. About 7 of 10 FNA biopsies will show that the nodule is benign. Cancer is clearly diagnosed in only about 1 of every 20 FNA biopsies.
Sometimes the test results come back as suspicious or atypical. This happens when the FNA findings can’t show for sure if the nodule is benign or malignant. In these cases, a more involved biopsy may be needed to get a better sample, particularly if the doctor has reason to think the nodule may be cancerous. This might include a biopsy using a larger needle or a surgical “open” biopsy or a lobectomy (removal of half of the thyroid gland). Surgical biopsies are done in an operating room while you are under general anesthesia (in a deep sleep).
Other diagnosing and confirmation methods of thyroid cancer are:
- Imaging tests
- Chest x-ray
- Ultrasound, or sonography
- Computed tomography (CT) scan
- Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan
- Nuclear medicine scans
- Blood tests
- Thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH)
- T3 and T4 (thyroid hormones)
- Carcinoembryonic antigen (CEA)
Surgery is usually the first line of treatment for thyroid cancer. Usually the whole thyroid gland (total thyroidectomy) will need to be removed, though sometimes only one lobe has to be removed; it depends on various factors such as your age, the size of the lump and results of the tests. The parathyroid glands may or may not be removed. After a thyroidectomy, patient need to take thyroxine tablets as prescribed for the rest of his/herlife; regular blood tests will be needed to check that patient thyroid hormone levels are within normal limits, and that the TSH level is suppressed. Eventually patient should only need a blood test once or twice a year.
Following surgery patient will need to have his hormone levels monitored
After thyroid surgery, GP will need to monitor patient thyroid medication and geblood tests to check hormone levels. When patient are at home after surgery,patient contact GP or treatment centre if:
- he feel extremely tired
- he have feelings of pins and needles in hands, feet or face
- he have palpitations
- he feel shaky
- he become very overactive, or
- he generally feel very unwell.
This may mean patient need to have thyroxine or calcium levels checked and patient medication dose increased or decreased, as the case may be. Once body has settled patient will be able to lead a normal life but will need to continue to take the thyroxine tablets for the rest of life and to have thyroid levels checked regularly. It will be particularly important to have thyroid hormones (TSH) checked if patient become pregnant, as he may need to increase her dose of thyroxine (levothyroxine). Patient will probably also need to have radioactive iodine treatment Most people need to have radioactive iodine treatment after surgery to destroy any remaining thyroid or cancer cells. Doctor will tell if this is the case. Radioactive iodine treatment is painless – it means taking either one or two capsule-type tablets, or as a liquid, in a single dose. Patient should not feel sick or lose any hair or have any other side effects with the usual dose required. It is a low dose of radiation but, for the safety of others, for the first 2–4 days a person needs to come into hospital and reduce their social contact. If patient need this treatment he will be informed by specialist consultant and given an information booklet before start the treatment.
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This test Cannot be sold in the state of New York. Landmark/HealthPoint Diagnostics TSH Test is a self collected lab analysis that measures a substance called Thyroid Stimulating Hormone. This test will help you and your doctor id &/or monitor an underactive or overactive thyroid condition.
I. What is it?
The thyroid gland produces thyroid hormones that are essential for one’s body functions. There are available blood testing that allows one to determine whether one’s thyroid gland produces sufficient levels of thyroid hormones. Thus, these tests can identify whether the thyroid gland is overactive or underactive. On the other hand, there are also unconventional do-it-at-home methods that may be used
II. Do it yourself
There are available thyroid tests that can be done easily, also referred to as home thyroid test. Even though these methods may seem controversial to some practitioners, these methods remained well accepted and are considered to be good alternatives. The following are the methods used and their description:
Iodine patch- this test involves application of pure iodine in the skin. This aims to determine how quick the stain disappears from the applied area. The expected results are whether there is a rapid absorption of the iodine once applied in the skin or not. Accordingly, when the skin easily absorbs the iodine, this indicates iodine deficiency. This test is done by some alternative practitioners.
Through the Saliva – although this test may not be fully done at home, the way of starting it is easy. Saliva testing is a test done to measure hormones found in the saliva. The saliva will then be subjected to some laboratory tests to determine thyroid hormone levels in the body. This method is growing in popularity as complementary and integrative practitioners are using it.
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.