Thyroid Cancer Information
The thyroid is a butterfly-shaped gland located at the base of the neck, just below the thyroid cartilage, or Adam’s apple. The thyroid, which is one of the largest glands in the endocrine system, produces and secretes hormones which regulate body temperature, weight, blood pressure and heart rate. The thyroid also regulates the rate at which the body uses energy, creates proteins, and the body’s sensitivity to other hormones.
Though it is not clear what causes thyroid cancer, it is known that it occurs when cells in the thyroid undergo genetic changes, or mutations. These mutations allow the cells to grow and multiply rapidly, as well as lose the ability to die, as normal cells would. The accumulating abnormal thyroid cells form a tumor. The abnormal cells can invade nearby tissue and spread throughout the body.
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Most cases of thyroid cancer can be treated and subsequently cured. Although thyroid cancer cases have not been common in the United States, rates appear to be increasing. This could be partly due to the fact that new technology is allowing physicians to find small thyroid cancers that may not have been found in the past.
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