The thyroid is a butterfly-shaped gland. It is located in your neck, just below Adam’s apple. This gland is at risk of several disorders that affect millions of people all around the world. Thyroid disorders are more commonly observed in women compared to men. Most thyroid disorders can be effectively managed with prescribed medication and lifestyle changes, but if the disorders are left untreated, they may have potential long-term consequences, particularly concerning cancer. 

In this blog, let’s explore the connection between thyroid disorders and risk factors leading to cancer, mostly focusing on strategies to prevent them and early detection.

Knowing about thyroid conditions

Before diving into the connection between thyroid disorders and cancer, let’s understand the basic function of the thyroid gland and the types of disorders that can arise. The thyroid gland, which is located in the neck, plays a crucial role in controlling metabolism, energy levels, and various other bodily functions by producing necessary thyroid hormones.

Hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism are the two major and most common thyroid disorders observed in both men and women. Hypothyroidism is a condition that develops when the thyroid gland fails to produce sufficient hormones. People with hypothyroidism might observe symptoms like tiredness, increased weight, and depression. On the other hand, hyperthyroidism is a condition that develops due to the production of excessive hormones and may result in symptoms such as weight loss, a fast heart rate, and stress.

Risks of untreated thyroid condition

Thyroid disorders that are left untreated can have severe effects on a person’s overall health and well-being. 

Along with certain thyroid complications like cardiac problems, fertility issues, especially in women, and neuro problems, some studies suggest that there is a possibility that untreated thyroid disorders may lead to cancer, especially thyroid cancer.

Types of thyroid cancer

Based on the types of cells found within the tumor, thyroid cancer is classified into different types.

  • Differentiated thyroid cancers
    • Papillary thyroid cancer
    • Follicular thyroid cancer
    • Hurthle cell thyroid cancer
    • Poorly differentiated thyroid cancer
  • Anaplastic thyroid cancer
  • Medullary thyroid cancer

Some types of thyroid cancer are rare, which include thyroid lymphoma (develops within the immune system cells of the thyroid), thyroid sarcoma (connective tissue cells of the thyroid), etc. 

Compared to other types of cancer, thyroid cancer is rarely observed. However, in recent years, the numbers have been steadily increasing. Finding the exact causes of thyroid cancer is still in progress, but certain risk factors mentioned below might put people at greater risk of cancer.

  • Exposure to radiation
  • Family history of the disease (hereditary)
  • Female sex (women are at greater risk compared to men)
  • Being overweight or obese
  • Untreated thyroid disorders

The Connection Between Thyroid Disorders and Cancer

Thyroid disorders, especially those related to conditions like goitre (thyroid gland enlargement) or nodules (unusual growth of cells on the thyroid gland), may increase the risk of thyroid cancer. Untreated thyroid conditions like hypothyroidism or hyperthyroidism may result in chronic inflammation and cellular changes in the thyroid tissue, which further increases the risk of developing cancerous cells.

Furthermore, people living with long-term thyroid disorders are more susceptible to developing thyroid nodules, which may possess cancerous cells. Patients with these nodules should require a thorough evaluation, which includes imaging tests and biopsies, to find out whether the lumps are benign or malignant.

Prevention and Early Detection

As there is some evidence that untreated thyroid disorders can lead to cancer, it is important to stress that the risk can be considerably decreased with early diagnosis and treatment. Regular tests to monitor thyroid functions, like blood tests, can help measure hormone levels so that the problems can be diagnosed early and facilitate timely treatment.

Furthermore, people who have a history of thyroid disorders or any other risks related to thyroid disorders should be more cautious about monitoring thyroid gland functions, especially developing nodules or increasing the size of the gland. Any unusual symptoms or abnormalities should be reported to your doctor for further evaluation, which may include imaging tests and biopsies if needed.

Along with medical care, one should know that taking certain precautions can also improve thyroid health and minimize the risk of complications, especially cancer.

  • Adopt a healthy lifestyle
  • Healthy diet
  • Regular exercise
  • Reducing exposure to radiation
  • Avoid smoking and consuming other tobacco products

Any disease can be prevented from becoming complicated if we stay educated about our health and regularly monitor our well-being. If you observe anything unusual related to thyroid functions, take the necessary steps to protect your health, which helps reduce the risk of severe complications, which include cancer. If you are having any thyroid problems, consult Dr. Venugopal Pareek, one of the best laparoscopic surgeons in Hyderabad. He has immense experience in treating various thyroid disorders and can help you prevent thyroid cancer. To book an appointment with the doctor, you can call us at +91 91777 77715.

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Disclaimer: Reading the information on this Bariatric Surgeon India website is not a substitute for any medical or bariatric surgery hospital consultation with a Bariatric or Laparoscopic Surgical specialist. The information should not be relied upon as a medical consultation. This information is not designed to replace a physician’s independent judgment about the appropriateness or risks of a procedure for a given patient. We will do our best to provide you with information that will help you make your own health care decisions. Regards Dr Venu Gopal Pareek, Best Bariatric Surgeon in Hyderabad