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Thyroid cancer begins in the thyroid gland. This gland is located in the front of the neck just below the larynx, which is called the voice box. The thyroid gland is part of the endocrine system, which regulates hormones in the body. The thyroid gland absorbs iodine from the bloodstream to produce thyroid hormones, which regulate a person’s metabolism.
A normal thyroid gland has two lobes, one on each side of the windpipe, joined by a narrow strip of tissue called the isthmus. A healthy thyroid gland is barely palpable, which means it is hard to be felt when touched. If a tumor develops in the thyroid, it is felt as a lump in the neck. A swollen or enlarged thyroid gland is called a goiter, which may be due to a person not getting enough iodine. However, most Americans receive enough iodine from salt, and a goiter under these circumstances is caused by other reasons.
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