Know the Signs of Thyroid Cancer
- How’s “Dirty Dancing” actress Jennifer Grey doing 14 years after beating thyroid cancer?
- She’s celebrating her 63rd birthday and starring in the new Lifetime movie “Gwen Shamblin: Starving for Salvation.”
- Thyroid cancer is a growth of cells that starts in the thyroid, which is located at the base of the neck and produces hormones that regulates your heart rate, blood pressure, body temperature and weight.
- Thyroid cancer may produce no symptoms at first, but they can include difficulty swallowing, voice changes, swelling in your neck, a lump felt through the skin on your neck, and pain in your neck.
- Thyroid treatments include surgery, hormone therapy, radioactive iodine, radiation, and chemotherapy.
Grey is best known for her roles in 1980s films including “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” and “Dirty Dancing.” Grey’s memorable dance moves with Swayzee still warm the hearts of long-time fans of the 1987 romantic drama film.Read More
What Cancer Did Jennifer Grey Have?
Jennifer Grey hasn’t publicly revealed many details about her private cancer journey, but we do know it began when a lump was discovered as the actress was preparing for spinal surgery after years of pain stemming from a 1987 car crash.
Grey’s cancerous lump was on her thryoid, and she had the tumor removed in December 2009 at the age of 49, according to Dr. Alexander Shifrin, an endocrine surgeon specializing in parathyroid, thyroid and adrenal glands.
As demonstrated by her continued and successful career since 2009, Grey has not let thyroid cancer stop her from pursuing her goals and dreams.
Understanding Thyroid Cancer
Thyroid cancer is a growth of abnormal cells that starts in the thyroid, which is located at the base of the neck and produces hormones that regulates your heart rate, blood pressure, body temperature and weight, Mayo Clinic described.
Most thyroid cancer types grow slowly, and most can be cured with treatment. However, tumors can still grow and metastasize, meaning it spreads to the lymph nodes in the neck and other parts of the body, which would require more treatment.
Types of Thyroid Cancer
According to Mayo Clinic, differentiated thyroid cancers include:
- Papillary thyroid cancer. This is the most common type of thyroid cancer. It can happen at any age, but it most often affects people ages 30 to 50. Most papillary thyroid cancers are small and respond well to treatment, even if the cancer cells spread to the lymph nodes in the neck.
- Follicular thyroid cancer. This rare type of thyroid cancer usually affects people older than 50. Follicular thyroid cancer cells don’t often spread to the lymph nodes in the neck.
- Hurthle cell thyroid cancer. Hurthle cell thyroid cancers are aggressive and can grow to involve structures in the neck and spread to other parts of the body.
- Poorly differentiated thyroid cancer. This rare type of thyroid cancer is more aggressive than other differentiated thyroid cancers and often doesn’t respond to the usual treatments.
- Anaplastic thyroid cancer. This rare type of thyroid cancer grows quickly and can be difficult to treat. However, treatments can help slow the progression of the disease. Anaplastic thyroid cancer tends to occur in people older than 60.
- Medullary thyroid cancer. This rare type of thyroid cancer begins in thyroid cells called C cells, which produce the hormone calcitonin. Elevated levels of calcitonin in the blood can indicate medullary thyroid cancer at a very early stage.
Thyroid Cancer Symptoms and Risk Factors
Thyroid cancer risk factors include exposure to high levels of radiation, being female, and certain inherited genetic syndromes.
Thyroid cancer may not cause symptoms at first but, as the cancer grows more prominent, signs become apparent for people impacted.
Symptoms can include:
- Difficulty swallowing
- Voice changes
- Swelling in your neck
- Lump felt through the skin on your neck
- Pain in your neck
Actress Sofia Vergara is another famous example of someone who battled thyroid cancer. She experienced no symptoms before she found a lump in her neck in 2000 at the age of 28. She went on to have surgery and iodine radiation treatment.
“When you go through something like this, it’s hard, but you learn a lot from it,” Vergara told Health. “Your priorities change. You don’t sweat the small stuff. And it had a good ending.”
And “Flip or Flop” star Tarek El Moussa was famously diagnosed with thyroid cancer after a vigilant viewer spotted a concerning lump on his neck in an episode of the show.He too experienced no symptoms, and he had surgery to beat the disease.
Thyroid Cancer Treatment
Thyroid cancer treatment depends on the cancer type and cancer stage. Treatment options include:
- Surgery, which can involve removing all or a portion of the thyroid or surgically removing lymph nodes in the neck.
- Thyroid hormone therapy, which replaces or supplement hormones produced in the thyroid.
- Radioactive iodine, which kills thyroid cancer cells that remain after surgery.
- Targeted drug therapy
- Radiation therapy
- Freezing or heating thyroid cancer cells
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