There are many different types of thyroid conditions and cancers that can affect a person. The most common of these conditions are hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism. These diseases manifest and affect each person differently.
Although hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism sound very much alike, they are complete opposites in the ways they affect the body.
Hyperthyroidism is a disorder in which the thyroid gland produces an excess amount of thyroid hormone, thus causing side effects such as rapid heartbeat and hot flashes.
On the other side of the spectrum, hypothyroidism is a condition in which the body lacks sufficient levels of thyroid hormone. There are two big causes to hypothyroidism: inflamation of the thyroid, also known as Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, and the surgical removal of partial or the entire thyroid gland.
In many cases, these disorders occur alone for varying reasons, but sometimes something more daunting can lie beneath the surface.
When Glen Rock parent Barbara Kopyta was in her late 30s, she started to notice troubling symptoms: hair loss and heart palpitations
“I was starting to realize that after a shower, I would see a bunch of hair in the drain. I was losing my hair,” Kopyta said.
While Kopyta suffered from the symptoms of hypothyroidism, the actual cause was something more troubling. She was diagnosed with papillary thyroid cancer in September 2008.
Now working as a long term substitute in the Media Center, Kopyta has beaten her diagnosis.
In some cases, however, symptoms of hypothyroidism or hyperthyroidism are not as apparent as in cancer diagnoses.
Gym teacher Kelly Dowell was also diagnosed with papillary thyroid cancer early in the summer of 2009.
Dowell said she never experienced any symptoms that showed signs of either hypothyroidism or hyperthyroidism.
“I didn’t have any symptoms or anything, nothing… I would have never known,” she said.
The way that thyroid conditions and cancers manifest and affect each host is different from person to person, but all have a devastating effect on the human body.
The most common cause of these cancers is papillary thyroid cancer, the carcinoma that has affected both Kopyta and Dowell.This disease accounts for 80-85% of all thyroid cancers, and is most commonly found in women 30-50 years of age. There is no known cause of papillary thyroid cancer, but doctors have confirmed it is a slowly progressing cancer.
Although many of these cancers and conditions are fairly easy to treat, it is better to find these illnesses in the earlier stages of progression to ensure an easier road to recovery.