Even though we can’t see our thyroid and it’s relatively small, it has a really important job. The thyroid produces hormones that regulate important body functions like heart rate, blood pressure, body temperature, and weight. This butterfly-shaped gland is located at the base of the neck, just below the Adam’s apple. While thyroid cancer isn’t all that common in the United States, according to the Mayo Clinic, the number of cases in the U.S. are on the decline, it’s still an important cancer to be wary of.
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So let’s take a look at some of the most important things to know about thyroid cancer including the different types, signs and symptoms, causes, and treatments.
1. What is the Thyroid Gland?
We’ve all heard mention of our thyroid gland, but when we stop to think about it…do we actually know what it is? The thyroid gland consists of two lobes that are located on either side of the windpipe. It plays an important role in our overall health as it releases three different types of hormones into the body that effect many different functions of the body.
The three hormones that are released by the thyroid gland include triiodothyronine (T3) and thyroxine (T4) which work to regulate the body’s metabolic rate. It controls how the body processes calories and how quickly they are burnt off. So an excess of these hormones, or lack of, can cause a person to feel sluggish, gain weight, or lose weight. The other hormone is calcitonin which effects our bone strength by controlling calcium levels. This hormone doesn’t have as big of an impact because the body has other ways of controlling calcium.