Thyroid cancer can be easily prevented by possessing a good knowledge of the early signs and symptoms from an abnormal thyroid. There are other preventive measures for thyroid cancer that can be taken apart from diet and also assessing thyroid hormone levels in the blood through regular checkups.
Other preventative measures apart from diet
Protection of the gland from radiation
The thyroid gland when exposed to strong radiation, like working on a nuclear plant or handling radioactive substances, reacts abnormally; protective clothing for the entire body, especially around the neck is greatly emphasized. Also, a thyroid collar should be provided during scans or X-rays that require a high level of radiation.
These used in water are found to greatly impact the thyroid. These are salts that are manufactured for explosives and fireworks and dissolved in water bodies. A person who is exposed to contaminated water with perchlorates for a significant period of time can have an abnormal trigger in the gland.
Screening with a strong family history
RET genetic screening is the most common method to screen genetic carriers when a person has a strong family history of thyroid cancer. This helps in detecting the malignancy at an early stage and initiating treatments for complete cure.
Symptoms of thyroid
When there is an abnormality in the thyroid, the symptoms in most cases show up, and it is necessary to keenly observe the signs and symptoms and this is one of the easiest preventative measures of thyroid cancer.
Symptoms of hypothyroidism are:
- Increased sensitivity to cold
- Dry skin
- Weight gain
- Elevated blood cholesterol
- Thinning of hair
- Puffy face
- Muscle weakness
Symptoms of hyperthyroidism are:
- Unintentional weight loss
- Rapid heartbeat (tachycardia) — commonly more than 100 beats per minute
- Increased appetite
- Nervousness, anxiety, and irritability
- Tremor — usually a fine trembling in hands
- Changes in menstrual patterns
- Increased sensitivity to heat
- More frequent bowel movements
- Fatigue, muscle weakness
- Difficulty sleeping
- Skin thinning
- Fine, brittle hair
The above are the signs and symptoms of an abnormally functioning thyroid. If these are not dealt with at an early stage, it might result in severe problems of the thyroid and may result in cancer, so it is necessary to go for routine checkups and tests.
Blood tests for thyroid hormones
Thyroid function tests are tests that are done to measure the level of thyroid hormones in the bloodstream. These include testing for T3, T4, and TSH (thyroid-stimulating hormone) through a blood sample.
High T4 indicates an overactive thyroid or hyperthyroidism, while high TSH beyond the normal range indicates that a person has hypothyroidism.
The normal ranges of the hormones for an adult are:
- T4 – 5 – 11 µg/dL
- TSH – 0.4 – 5.5 mU/mL
Going for annual checkups which include the thyroid functions helps to a great extent and is considered as one of the best preventative measures of thyroid cancer. It helps to note any abnormal values and curb it much earlier before it could develop into cancer.