The thyroid gland, which sits at the base of the neck, produces hormones that regulate your heart rate, blood pressure, body temperature and weight. This is an important gland and it is essential to maintain the health of this organ. Thyroid imbalance is common but thyroid cancer is relatively rare, but rates are now increasing. There are different types of cancer that can occur in this gland, both aggressive and some that grows slowly. But early diagnosis and treatment can cure almost all of them. However, the danger is that the symptoms are vague, and many people may not notice them till it is too late. In the initial stages, it may not present any symptoms. But be alert to pain and swelling in your neck as it can indicate thyroid cancer. There are many causes behind this kind of cancer and now a new study at the University of Bergen shows that thyroid cancer is related to in-utero exposures.
More common in women than in men
Thyroid cancer is diagnosed at a younger age than most other malignancies and the incidence is higher in women than men. The only established modifiable risk factors for thyroid cancer are childhood exposure to ionizing radiation and obesity. Only a few in-utero and early life risk factors have so far been identified. Health conditions like maternal hypothyroidism, hyperthyroidism, goiter, and benign thyroid neoplasms increase the risk of this kind of cancer.
Health conditions responsible for thyroid cancer
For the purpose of the study, researchers conducted a nested case-control study using nationwide registry data from four Nordic countries (Denmark, Finland, Norway, and Sweden). The study included 2,437 thyroid cancer cases and 24,362 matched controls aged 0-48 years during 1967-2015. According to researchers, maternal benign thyroid conditions such as hypothyroidism, hyperthyroidism, goiter, and benign thyroid neoplasms were strongly associated with thyroid cancer risk in offspring. Also, high birth weight, congenital hypothyroidism, maternal history of diabetes, and maternal postpartum haemorrhage were associated with increased risk.
The study supports a link between in-utero exposures and an increased risk of thyroid cancer later in life. Researchers say that these findings should motivate additional research into early-life exposures that might cause thyroid cancer.
Symptoms of thyroid cancer
Indications of this cancer may be a lump or nodule that is easily felt through the skin on your neck and changes in your voice. You may experience difficulty swallowing because of swollen lymph nodes and experience a pain in the neck and throat region. If you notice any of these symptoms, consult a doctor. Early treatment is essential and leads to better prognosis.
Being a woman puts you at a higher risk of this kind of cancer. Radiation therapy to the neck and head may also increase your risk. Certain genetic health conditions like familial medullary thyroid cancer, multiple endocrine neoplasia, Cowden's syndrome and familial adenomatous polyposis also increase your chances of getting this cancer.