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Fight Thyroid Cancer with Southcoast Health

Thyroid cancer is not common in the United States compared to other cancers. Each year, about 45,000 Americans find out they have it. This is less than one-third the number who are diagnosed with colon cancer. Having thyroid cancer means you have malignant cells in your thyroid gland — a butterfly-shaped gland in your neck. There are five main types of thyroid cancer:

  • Anaplastic carcinoma develops when papillary or follicular cancers mutate into a very aggressive form. This is the most dangerous type of thyroid cancer, as it spreads quickly and is very difficult to treat.
  • Follicular carcinoma starts in the cells that make thyroid hormones. This form accounts for about 10% of thyroid cancer and is more common in countries with diets low in iodine.
  • Hurthle cell carcinoma is a variant of follicular carcinoma, but it is harder to detect and treat. About 3% of thyroid cancers are this type.
  • Medullary thyroid carcinoma grows in C cells — the cells that make the hormone calcitonin. This form makes up about 4% of thyroid cancers. It is often more difficult to treat.
  • Papillary carcinoma usually develops in one lobe of the thyroid gland and grows slowly. This is the most common form of thyroid cancer, representing 80% of cases. Papillary cancers are highly curable and rarely fatal.

If you have thyroid cancer in Fall River, Fairhaven or elsewhere in Massachusetts or Rhode Island, you can depend on the cancer care team at Southcoast Health for comprehensive treatment. Contact a specialist near you today to schedule a consultation.

Risk Factors & Causes

Risk factors that may increase the likelihood of developing thyroid cancer include:

  • Age — most thyroid cancers occur in people younger than 55
  • Diet low in iodine
  • Exposure to high amounts of radiation, especially during childhood
  • Family history of thyroid cancer
  • Female gender — women are three times more likely than men to develop thyroid cancer
  • Genetics — some thyroid cancers are related to mutations in genes and genetic conditions

Symptoms of Thyroid Cancer

Early thyroid cancer generally doesn’t cause symptoms. The most common symptom is a lump or swelling in the neck. Noticing this lump is how most people or their doctors find thyroid cancer. Other symptoms can appear in more advanced stages and include:

  • Constant cough
  • Hoarseness or other voice changes that persist
  • Pain in the front of the neck that can extend to the ears
  • Trouble breathing or swallowing

Thyroid Cancer Treatment in Fall River & Fairhaven, MA

Treatment depends on the type and stage of thyroid cancer. Most people will have surgery to remove part or all of the thyroid gland.

Other standard treatments include:

Most people are completely cured of thyroid cancer in the early stages, before it spreads to other tissues.

Southcoast Health offers many resources and treatment options for patients with thyroid cancer in Fall River, Fairhaven and throughout southeastern Massachusetts and parts of Rhode Island.