Follicular thyroid cancer is the second most common type of thyroid cancer, trailing behind the papillary thyroid cancer. Due to this, we must create measures that would help with the prevention of follicular thyroid cancer. In this article, we will be discussing information regarding the various causes, symptoms, and treatment necessary to learn about follicular thyroid cancer.
Follicular Thyroid Cancer Information You Must Know
Follicular Thyroid Cancer Causes
Like most cancers, the exact cause of thyroid cancer is generally unknown. However, research has associated the occurrence of thyroid cancer with certain genetic mutations. Diagnoses of FTC usually come about between the ages 40 and 60. FTC also occurs three times more in females as compared to males (3:1) In addition to these, researchers have found little evidence that supports the link between thyroid cancer and radiation.
Although we know very little about the specific causes of Follicular Thyroid Cancer, we do know a significant amount of risk factors for thyroid cancer in general that may be good to be mindful of:
- Family History of Goiter – Researchers have found a correlation between people who have a goiter in their family history and those who developed thyroid cancer.
- Ethnicity – Researchers have also found that individuals of Asian descent tend to be more prone to developing thyroid cancer.
Follicular Thyroid Cancer Symptoms
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— Thyroid Symptoms (@ThyroidSymptms) September 9, 2017
In most cases, doctors are able to diagnose Follicular Thyroid Cancer without the occurrence of any significant symptoms. General symptoms of thyroid cancer include the following:
- Persistent cough
- Lump in the neck
- Persistent hoarseness or changes in vocal quality
- Neck Pain
- Swollen Lymph Nodes
- Trouble Breathing
- Trouble Swallowing
Follicular Thyroid Cancer Prognosis
Experts have linked the prognosis of FTC with tumor size–the smaller the tumor, the greater the chance of survival. Research has also shown a connection between mortality and degree of vascular invasion. Furthermore, the greater the degree of vascular invasion, the greater likelihood of the occurrence of metastasis. Generally, 90% of FTC patients survive which is why they among the cancers that have the biggest chance of survival.
There are certain factors that may affect a patient’s prognosis. The following are among the more favorable prognostic factors for people diagnosed with FTC:
- Younger than 45 years old
- Tumor size is less than or equal to 4 cm
- Minimal invasion of capsule
- Absence of local invasion
- No blood vessel invasion
- Negative to lymph node metastasis
- Absence of distant metastasis
- Single thyroid cancer
- Presence of Hashimoto’s thyroiditis
On the other hand, there are also risk factors that increase a patient’s vulnerability to FTC. Furthermore, the following factors negatively affect a patient’s prognosis:
- Age 45 or greater
- Poorly differentiated cancer
- Hurthle cell type
- Distant metastasis
- Local invasion
- Blood vessel invasion
- Insufficient surgery
- Delay in therapy
- No levothyroxine therapy
- No radioactive iodine treatment in some patients
- Male gender
- Absence of Grave’s Disease
Follicular Thyroid Cancer Diagnosis
It is important that you consult with your physician immediately should you experience any or all of the mentioned symptoms. In addition to this, aside from the physical examination that usually enables physicians to detect any forming lumps in the neck area, several diagnostic tests can also be performed to verify which of the thyroid-related ailments the patient has contracted. That being said, here are the 4 diagnostic tests health professionals commonly use to gather information about a person’s thyroid gland:
- Blood Test – A blood test allows the physician to determine if the thyroid gland is producing too many or too little of the hormones that the body needs.
- Thyroid Scan – This is a type of nuclear scan.
- Ultrasound – This is a common test that uses high-frequency sound waves to create images.
- Biopsy – A small amount of the mass is examined by medical technologists under a microscope. It is through this method that we are able to definitely say whether a mass is malignant or benign.
Follicular Thyroid Cancer Treatment
Following diagnosis, you and your doctor can now pursue treatment. The treatment options include 4 main methods.
- Surgery – There are several types of thyroid surgery that can be performed by doctors for the purpose of treating thyroid cancer:
- Near-total thyroidectomy
- Total thyroidectomy
- Lymph node dissection
- Chemotherapy – This is a method used to kill cancerous cells and slow the spread of cancer throughout the body.
- Hormone Therapy for Thyroid Cancer – The type of hormones you are to receive is dependent on three main factors:
- Type and size of tumor
- Your age
- The presence of hormone receptors on the tumor (can indicate that tumor will respond to hormones)
- In some cases, when surgeons perform complete thyroidectomy, it is necessary that the patient receives hormone therapy to help his or her body cope with the lack of thyroid hormones present in the body. Given this, the patient receives hormone therapy all throughout his or her life.
- Radiation Therapy – Physicians use radiation to treat cancer, in general. In addition, radiation therapy works very similarly to chemotherapy in that it involves the extermination of cancerous cells. That being said, there are two ways to receive radiation therapy for thyroid related cancers:
- Radioactive iodine
- External beam radiation therapy
For more information regarding the follicular thyroid cancer treatment, check out this video by UW Health:
Experts have established that the prognosis of follicular thyroid cancer is generally good. Despite this, we must continue to remain steadfast when it comes to looking after our own health. We must be able to keep track of the subtle bodily changes that occur in order to encourage the occurrence of early diagnosis.
If you have had any experiences regarding Follicular Thyroid Cancer, please share your thoughts with us in the comments below!