In 2019, experts estimate approximately 52,000 people will develop thyroid cancer. The thyroid is a butterfly-shaped endocrine gland in the front of the neck. A healthy thyroid produces hormones that are critical to a wide variety of bodily functions. Among its multiple roles, thyroid hormone helps regulate metabolism, physical growth, and thermoregulation. It also orchestrates the regulation of other hormones in the body. If abnormal cells grow in this gland, thyroid cancer can develop. Though any cancer diagnosis is frightening, thyroid cancer has a 5-year survival rate of 98%. Seeking medical attention for early symptoms is the best way to have a positive prognosis.
Even though symptoms are often absent in the earliest stages of thyroid cancer, a lump or nodule in the neck is one of the initial signs. Not all nodules are cancerous. Doctors will closely examine those that are solitary, grow rapidly, and are hard, painless, and do not easily move with routine palpation. If a doctor discovers swelling or a lump, he or she may order a biopsy. If the test results are inconclusive, the patient may require further tests.
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