Thyroid cancer may not be as well known as some other types of cancer, like lung cancer, breast cancer, or colorectal cancer, but it’s just as serious. More than 43,000 Americans are diagnosed with thyroid cancer yearly, and about 2,200 people will die from the disease.
Like other types of cancer, thyroid cancer benefits from early diagnosis and early treatment. The best way to get treatment: learn to recognize the symptoms of thyroid cancer, including one of the most common signs — changes in your voice.
At Desert West Surgery, our team has extensive experience in state-of-the-art treatment for thyroid cancer, helping patients at our three Las Vegas, Nevada, locations receive the most appropriate treatment as early as possible. Here’s how thyroid cancer — and other thyroid problems — can affect your voice.
The thyroid gland is a two-lobed gland that wraps around your voicebox (or larynx). The thyroid cartilage makes up the front part of your larynx, protecting your vocal cords from damage. It also forms the “Adam’s apple” that tends to be more prominent in males.
Studies show that the larynx tissue has special receptors that bind with or react to hormones produced by the thyroid, explaining why even mild changes in gland activity can change the way your voice sounds. Because of their proximity and involvement with each other, it’s not surprising that changes in the thyroid can have a direct effect on your larynx — and your voice.
In thyroid cancer, nodules or growths form in and around the thyroid gland changing its shape and putting pressure on your larynx and vocal cords. That’s why changes in your voice — including hoarseness, changes in the loudness of your voice, or changes in how high or low your voice sounds — can be a sign of thyroid cancer.
Thyroid cancer isn’t the only type of thyroid disease that can cause changes in your voice. Benign growths can also affect your voice, and so can two common thyroid conditions — overactive thyroid (hyperthyroidism) and underactive thyroid (hypothyroidism).
Some types of thyroid disorders can be treated with medication. But other thyroid issues, including many cancers, require thyroid surgery.
Our team offers several types of thyroid surgery, depending on your unique needs. Most patients with thyroid cancer require either a total thyroidectomy to remove the entire gland, or a lobectomy to remove one side of the gland and the “bridge” of tissue that connects the two lobes.
After total thyroidectomy, you’ll need to take thyroid medicine to replace the hormones no longer produced by your thyroid. With a lobectomy, the remaining lobe may be able to produce enough hormones so that medicine won’t be needed.
Allergies, respiratory infections, and sore throats can cause temporary hoarseness not associated with cancer. But if you have hoarseness that’s not going away, it’s important not to ignore it.
To learn more about thyroid cancer or other thyroid disorders, book an appointment over the phone with the team at Desert West Surgery today.