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What is thyroid cancer and its causes ?

The thyroid is a gland in the neck. It has two kinds of cells that make hormones. The thyroid is shaped like a butterfly and lies at the front of the neck, beneath the voice box (larynx).

The thyroid gland contains mainly 2 types of cells — thyroid follicular cells and C cells (also called parafollicular cells). The follicular cells use iodine from the blood to make thyroid hormone, which helps regulate a person’s metabolism. C cells (parafollicular cells) make calcitonin, a hormone that helps regulate how the body uses calcium.

Different cancers develop from each kind of cell. The differences are important because they affect how serious the cancer is and what type of treatment is needed.
A healthy thyroid is a little larger than a quarter. It usually cannot be felt through the skin. A swollen thyroid is called a goiter. Most goiters are caused by not enough iodine in the diet.
Lumps or bumps in the thyroid gland are called thyroid nodules. Most thyroid nodules are benign, but about 1 in 20 is cancerous. People can develop thyroid nodules at any age, but they are most common in older adults.

Thyroid nodules can be benign or malignant:

Benign nodules are not cancer. Cells from benign nodules do not spread to other parts of the body.
Malignant nodules are cancer. They are generally more serious and may sometimes be life threatening. Cancer cells can invade and damage nearby tissues and organs.

Causes of Thyroid Cancer

The following conditions have been cited in various sources as potentially causal risk factors related to Thyroid cancer:
– Cancer begins with an alteration to the structure of DNA that is found in all human cells. This is known as a genetic mutation.
– Age : most people are over 40.
– Gender : women 3 times more than men.
– Race : Caucasians are more likely than African Americans.
– Iodine deficiency.
– Radiation exposure.

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