Thyroid and Parathyroid Disorders/Head & Neck Cancer
Your thyroid gland is located at the base of the neck, and produces hormones to help your body with metabolism as well as growth and development. On the back surface of the thyroid gland are located 4 parathyroid glands which aid in regulating the amount of calcium in your blood stream. It is very common to have nodules in your thyroid, but when they get large enough, your doctor may want to work them up further.
An ultrasound of the thyroid gland is most often the first step in workup, and depending on the size and characteristics of the nodule on your thyroid, a biopsy may be needed. If any abnormalities are found on the biopsy results, your doctor may recommend taking out a portion, or all of your thyroid gland. Other times, one of your parathyroid glands may become enlarged and cause too much calcium in your blood stream. This can be corrected by removing the enlarged gland.
Other forms of head and neck cancer are often due to a history of smoking, but also may be related to a prior infection with the HPV virus. It is important to see your doctor if you are having hoarseness, trouble swallowing, new lumps on your neck, or trouble breathing, particularly if you have a history of smoking. If your doctor does find a concerning lesion, they may recommend a biopsy and additional imaging to further characterize your problem.