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Thyroid Cancer

Thyroid Cancer in Singapore

Thyroid cancer in Singapore

What is Thyroid Cancer?

Thyroid cancer in Singapore is one of the top cancers impacting females. The thyroid gland is a butterfly-shaped gland located at the base on the neck. Hormones that regulate our weight, heart rate, and body temperature are produced by it. When there is an abnormal growth of tissue in the thyroid gland, it results in the development of a nodule. Nodules can be benign (non-cancerous) or malignant (cancerous). A careful diagnosis is needed to ascertain if the nodule is benign (in most cases) or malignant.

Types of Thyroid Cancer

Papillary Thyroid Cancer

Being about 75% of all thyroid cancer cases, papillary thyroid cancer is the most common kind of thyroid cancer. These are slow growing typically, but have a tendency to spread to the lymph nodes in the neck. Most cases of papillary thyroid cancer can be successfully treated.

Subtypes of papillary thyroid cancer do exist. Certain less common ones such as follicular variant, tall cell, insular, and diffuse sclerosing tend to be more aggressive (faster grow and spread).

Follicular Thyroid Cancer

The second most common type of thyroid cancer is follicular thyroid cancer. This type is responsible for about 15% of all cases. Follicular thyroid cancer spreads typically via the bloodstream to the lungs and bones, and other parts of the body.

Medullary Thyroid Cancer

Medullary thyroid cancer is a less common form of thyroid cancer (about 5% of cases). Compared to papillary and follicular thyroid cancers, the outcome of treatment for medullary thyroid cancer is not as good. Nonetheless, successful treatment is still possible for many paitents.

Anaplastic Thyroid Cancer

Anaplastic thyroid cancer is a rare form of thyroid cancer (about 2% of cases). These are usually very aggressive – growing and spread rapidly to other parts of the body.

Symptoms of Thyroid Cancer

Thyroid cancer symptoms depend on the type of cancer. There may not be any symptoms early in the early stages. As the cancer grows however, it may cause the following general symptoms:

  • Patient experiencing constipation or diarrhoea;
  • Difficulty in swallowing or in breathing (in severe cases);
  • Hoarseness of and/or changes in the voice; and
  • A lump in the neck (which moves when swallowing)

Thyroid Cancer in Singapore – Statistics

Incidence Rates for Thyroid Cancer in Singapore – More Common in Females

Thyroid cancer in Singapore is more common in women than men. Data published in the Singapore Cancer Registry Annual Report 2019 shows that it is the 8th most common cancer diagnosed in women in Singapore for the period 2015-2019. Most cases of thyroid cancer occur in patients under 60 years old. In females, the incidence rate of thyroid cancer is higher for Indians (4.8% of all cancers diagnosed in 2015-2019), followed by Malays (4.4%) and Chinese (3.7%)

Thyroid Cancer Impacts Younger Males Too

While thyroid cancer is not within the top 10 most common cancer for males overall, in younger males, the incidence rates are significant. For males in the 30-39 year old bracket in particular, thyroid cancer was 7.1% of all cancers diagnosed.

Survival Rate for Thyroid Cancer in Singapore

The silver lining is that thyroid cancer is not within the top 10 causes of death for cancer patients in Singapore. It is one of the cancers with the highest survival rate. The survival rate for thyroid cancer in Singapore for females is high, at 89% (five-year age-standardised relative survival rate).

This article is informative only and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment, and should never be relied upon for specific medical advice.