29 February 2012

Can You Get Cancer in Your Glands?

The American Heritage Dictionary defines a gland like this:

"A cell, a group of cells, or body which produces a secretion for use elsewhere in the body or in a body cavity, or disposing of the body. Any of various organs such as lymph nodes, that resemble true glands but perform a non-secretory function. "

The glands are located throughout many body fluids and the release of hormones that play an important role in maintaining good health in the body. There are two types of glands. Gland hood, known as exocrine glands, they release hormones through ducts. The ductless, known as endocrine glands, hormones released directly into the bloodstream. Type include exocrine glands and mammary glands. Glands that make up the endocrine type are the thyroid, ovaries, testes and parathyroid.

The question is can we get cancer in the glands? To be able to answer that we have to understand how cancer develops and moves.

Cancer develops when the DNA of a cell is damaged or changed, producing mutations that affect normal cell growth and division. The cells do not die as they should and new cells form when the body does not need them, forming a mass of tissue called a tumor. The cancer cells spread throughout the area evolution of healthier cells into malignant cancer cells in a process known as metastasis.

Cancer cells may then be detached from the tumor to move into the bloodstream through the veins or through the lymphatic system. Both in the bloodstream and lymphatic cancer cells to stop at the first place it gets stuck. Cancer cells are often trapped in the lymph nodes closest to the tumor.

With the thyroid gland so close to the surface of the skin, it's pretty obvious when a song or a nodule develops on it. This piece may have pain and difficulty swallowing or breathing.

In my case, a fluid-filled cyst developed on my thyroid. When the fluid was extracted and sent for testing no cancer cells were present. When the cyst, after being emptied several times, was surgically removed, the cancer was later found in the thyroid gland.

When the thyroid gland is cancer surgery called a thyroidectomy is the usual treatment. When this is done, the surgeon will also remove some lymph nodes. Thyroid cancer is known to spread to lymph nodes in the region or the thyroid gland. If cancer cells are found in the thyroid lymph nodes removed indicating that the cancer has grown through the capsule of the gland. Treatment with radioactive iodine will normally be necessary to ablate remaining thyroid cells.

During whole body scans after thyroidectomy, the small amount of radioactive iodine will join any remaining thyroid tissue. If a lymph node is suspicious of a fine needle biopsy is done remove some cells to determine if it contains cancer.