The thyroid gland is situated at the base of the neck. It helps produce hormones to regulate crucial body functions like heart rate, body temperature, and blood pressure. An uncontrolled growth of cells in this gland is known as thyroid cancer. While most thyroid cancers are curable, it is vital to identify the symptoms early for effective treatment. Here are seven must-know silent warning signs of thyroid cancer that help diagnose the condition.
Abnormal cell growth in the thyroid gland can cause it to produce excess amounts of hormones like triiodothyronine (T3) and thyroxine (T4). These hormones overstimulate the central nervous system and lead to insomnia. Therefore, if an individual’s sleep patterns change abruptly, it could indicate thyroid cancer.
The human body often tires after a hard day’s work or strenuous physical activity. But those with thyroid cancer may experience fatigue upon waking up after a good night’s sleep. It is because an underactive thyroid may lead to lesser production of the hormones necessary to stay energetic.
The thyroid gland helps keep the digestive tract running smoothly. So, someone with thyroid cancer may have subtle signs of an underactive thyroid, including poor hormone production, which may lead to regular constipation. On the contrary, an overactive thyroid may lead to symptoms like diarrhea.
The thyroid gland helps regulate the body’s energy production. However, cancerous cells in the gland may lead to higher hormone production. This phenomenon may increase the body’s metabolism, causing people to feel warmer and sweat. Therefore, people who sweat without exerting their bodies should get checked for thyroid cancer.
Mood changes are another silent warning sign of thyroid cancer. For example, a person might feel sudden bursts of anxiety even if they have never experienced these symptoms before.
It is normal for people with the common cold to experience temporary voice changes. However, if irregularities occur without any illness, it could indicate cancer development in the thyroid gland. A persistent cough not caused by a cold may also be an early sign of thyroid cancer.
Pain in the neck may be a sign of strain caused during exercises or other health conditions. However, it is also an early indicator of thyroid cancer. The pain in the neck usually starts from the front and extends to the ears.
Besides looking for the signs above, one can also approach healthcare experts to check for cancer through genetic tests (DNA tests). In this method, experts collect cell samples to assess if the patient has inherited cancer. The experts check for mutations in the chromosomes, proteins, and genes during tests like these. Such tests may help identify various cancer types, including unusual mutations in the colon, prostate, stomach, ovarian, and breast. The expert may recommend a tailored treatment plan if cancer growth is detected during diagnosis.
Some treatment options are available for thyroid cancer. One of them is radioactive iodine (RAI) therapy for treating an overactive thyroid and certain stages of thyroid cancer. It is an oral prescription approach suggested for papillary and follicular forms of thyroid cancer. Alternatively, those who do not respond well to RAI therapies are switched to Tyrosine Kinase Inhibitors (TKI) therapy to directly target the main proteins that trigger the spread of thyroid cancer. Another FDA-approved approach features targeted fusion gene therapy combining various multikinase inhibitors, RET inhibitors, and TRK inhibitors to tackle the most severe forms of thyroid cancer. Treatments will vary depending on the severity of the symptoms and cancer stage.
Another approved treatment for RET+ advanced thyroid cancer is GAVRETO®(pralsetinib). The prescription option is indicated for adults and children over 12 years with advanced medullary thyroid cancer (MTC). GAVRETO® is administered orally or intravenously (systemic therapy). The prescription is also given to individuals who did not respond or no longer respond positively to treatment with radioactive iodine.