Sat, Nov 19, 2016 - Page 4 News List

Incidence rate of thyroid cancer is rising: physician

TELLTALE SIGNS:A lump in the neck, hoarseness or changes to the voice, difficulty swallowing or breathing, weight loss and chest pain are all symptoms

By Lee I-chia  /  Staff reporter

Thyroid cancer is the fifth-most common cancer among Taiwanese women and its incidence is increasing, a Taipei City Hospital physician said, adding that people who feel a lump or swelling in the neck should see a doctor.

Huang Hsi-yu (黃晞育), an attending surgeon at Taipei City Hospital’s Heping Fuyou Branch, said the incidence of thyroid cancer in Taiwan is about five to seven per 100,000 people, most often in people aged between 20 and 45, and although that is relatively low, an annual increase has been observed.

He said the exact cause of most thyroid cancer is unknown, but studies have shown that radiation exposure is a major risk factor, such as living in an area contaminated by radiation, or head or neck radiation exposure in childhood.

About 20 to 25 percent of medullary thyroid cancer cases are genetic and people with Hashimoto’s disease have an increased risk of developing thyroid lymphoma, Huang said.

The most common symptom is a lump or swelling in the neck which can be felt with the hands. Other less common symptoms include hoarseness or changes to the voice, difficulty swallowing or breathing, chest pain and weight loss, he added.

Huang said conventional thyroid cancer diagnosis is done using ultrasound and a biopsy using a thin, hollow needle to take a sample of cells from the lump under the skin for further examination.

He said treatment can involve removing part or all of the thyroid gland and most people make a good recovery, but that people who have the thyroid gland removed have to take thyroid hormone supplements.

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