The thyroid is a gland shaped like a butterfly located on the front of the neck just below the Adam’s apple. The thyroid consists of two lobes connected by a bridge called the isthmus. It secretes several hormones which act throughout the body and affect metabolism, growth and development, and body temperature. The proper levels of thyroid hormone are important during infancy and childhood.
An abnormal mass or lump in the thyroid is called a nodule or tumor. Most nodules are non-cancerous (benign). A biopsy of the mass will determine if any cancer cells are present. It is not known what causes these nodules to form. There is some evidence people who have been exposed to high amounts of radiation have an increased risk of nodules and thyroid cancer. In addition, thyroid nodules have been shown to be hereditary.
If the mass in the thyroid is cancerous, it is called a tumor. Thyroid cancer is often hard to detect and diagnose as many times it does not cause symptoms. The good news is that thyroid cancer is very uncommon and very treatable.
Symptoms of a thyroid nodule include:
- Horseness or other changes in your voice that don’t go away
- Pain or Swelling in the front of your neck
- A lump or growth on your neck sometimes fast growing
- Trouble swallowing or breathing
If the mass is benign and is not causing any symptoms, your physician may recommend just watching and waiting. If the nodule is causing your thyroid to make too many hormones (Hyperthyroidism) you may need medication or surgery to treat your symptoms.
If the mass is found to be cancerous, your doctor will recommend the appropriate treatment regiment for the size and location of the mass. Surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy are a few of the treatment options that may be recommended.
The parotid glands are the largest salivary glands and are located in front of the ears. Most parotid tumors are not cancerous (benign). The treatment for benign parotid tumors is usually surgery. The benign tumor should be completely excised to reduce the chance of a regrowth of the tumor.
If the tumor is found to be cancerous, a number of factors will determine the course of treatment including the stage of cancer, size of the tumor, patient’s health, patient’s age, type of cancer etc. Surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy are a few of the treatment options that may be recommended.