Thyroid cancer forms in the tissues of the thyroid gland, which is located in the front of the throat, below the cartilage known as the Adam’s apple. Though thyroid cancer is not considered a type of head and neck cancer, it is typically treated by an otolaryngology-trained oncologist who also treats malignancies of the mouth, nose, tonsils, sinuses, salivary glands and lymph nodes of the neck. Symptoms of thyroid cancer may include neck pain, voice changes, breathing difficulties, coughing or trouble swallowing.
The thyroid gland produces several important hormones, including the thyroid hormone, which is involved in controlling body temperature, weight, energy level and heart rate. The thyroid gland also produces calcitonin, which helps the body use calcium.
The American Cancer Society estimates that 52,890 people in the United States will be diagnosed with thyroid cancer in 2020. Compared with other common types of cancer, thyroid cancer occurs more frequently in younger patients, with about 65 percent of cases occurring in people under the age of 55. Women are also two-and-a-half times more likely to develop thyroid cancer than men.
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