• Pain in the neck and throat
• Lymph node inflammation
In case you experience any of the above symptoms, talk to the doctor.
Types of Thyroid Cancer
1. Papillary Thyroid Cancer
This is a well-differentiated type of thyroid cancer. It is the one that occurs most. Women of childbearing age are the most affected. This cancer is less risky than the other kinds. It is treatable and spreads slower.
2. Medullary Thyroid Cancer
This is a type of cancer that has a genetic component. This may cause it to develop like part of endocrine gland cancer syndrome. Medullary thyroid cancer occurs in non-thyroid cells situated in your thyroid gland. Its form of treatment is different compared to the other types.
3. Follicular Thyroid Cancer
This refers to a form of cancer that has a chance of spreading and recurring.
4. Anaplastic Thyroid Cancer
This cancer is rare, hard to treat, and aggressive than other types of thyroid cancer.
5. Thyroid Lymphoma
This type of cancer is very rare and starts developing in immune cells found within your thyroid gland.
Diagnosis of Thyroid Cancer
Here are the procedures and tests that detect thyroid cancer.
1. Physical Exam
The doctor examines the neck to detect any physical changes, for instance, a nodule. The doctor may ask you about the family history regarding thyroid tumors and past contact with radiation.
2. Ultrasound Imaging
Ultrasound applies sound waves of high frequency to generate images of body structures. To form a thyroid image, the doctor places the transducer on the lower neck. How the thyroid appears helps your doctor determine if a thyroid swelling is noncancerous or a risk of it being cancerous.
3. Blood Tests
These tests help in the determination of whether the thyroid gland is normal.
4. Removing a Thyroid Tissue Sample
The doctor will insert a long, small needle via the skin and into the nodule during the biopsy. The doctor uses ultrasound imaging to guide the thin needle to the nodule. They then extract some samples of thyroid tissue. This sample is taken to the lab for analysis.
5. Genetic Testing
Your family's history might make the doctor suggest a genetic test to check for genes that accelerate the risk of developing cancer.
Treatment for Thyroid Cancer
The stage and type of thyroid cancer, your preference, and overall health determine the treatment option to use. With treatment, thyroid cancer is curable. Here are the treatment methods that you can choose from.
To get rid of the thyroid, most individuals with this cancer undergo surgery. The doctor will recommend an operation based on the cancer size, type, whether it has spread past the thyroid, and the outcome of ultrasound examination of the whole thyroid gland. The kind of operations used in thyroid cancer treatment is discussed below.
This is an operation that involves the removal of a piece of the thyroid. The doctor may suggest this type of operation if the thyroid cancer is growing slowly on one side of your thyroid and there exist no suspicious nodules.
This operation involves the removal of the entire or almost the whole of the thyroid gland. Your surgeon will leave tiny rims of the tissue to minimize the risk of damaging parathyroid glands. Parathyroid glands help in the regulation of calcium levels in the blood.
Lymph Node Dissection
In this operation, the dentist removes the lymph nodes located in your neck. They can use them to test for cancer.
Surgery comes with the risk of infection and bleeding. During surgery, there is also a likelihood of damaging the parathyroid glands, resulting in low body calcium levels. There also exists a possibility that after the surgery, the nerves that connect your vocal cords may fail to work normally. This results in hoarseness, paralysis of the vocal cord, difficulty in breathing, and voice changes. Fortunately, there is a treatment that reverse's or improves the nerve issue.
2. Radioactive Iodine
Another form of treatment is radioactive iodine, which uses large dosages of iodine which is radioactive. It is applied after thyroidectomy to ensure the remaining healthy tissue gets destroyed. Also, to destroy microscopic parts of cancer that the operation did not remove. This treatment is also used to treat re-occurring cancer or cancer that spreads to other body parts.
The treatment comes in the form of liquid or capsules that you swallow. Radioactive iodine gets absorbed by the thyroid cancer cells and thyroid cells, so the chances of harming other cells are very minimal. Here are some of the side effects you are likely to experience.
• Mouth pain
• Dry mouth
• Altered sense of smell and taste
• Eye inflammation
During radioactive iodine treatment, the doctor will give you some precautionary measures to protect your loved ones from the radiation. For example, you may be requested to avoid touching people during the specified period.
3. Thyroid Hormone Treatment
After having a thyroidectomy, there is a high chance that you will consume the thyroid hormone drug for the rest of your life. This medication supplies you with the hormone that the thyroid was producing. It also suppresses the secretion of TSH (thyroid-stimulating hormone) from the pituitary gland. This is because the TSH might stimulate the cancer cells' remnants to regenerate.
Chemotherapy is a type of drug treatment that utilizes chemicals in destruction of cancer cells. It is administered as an infusion via your vein. This chemical circulates the body, destroying all growing cancer cells. This form of treatment is not very common in thyroid cancer treatment; however, it is regularly used in treating anaplastic thyroid cancer. The doctor can combine this treatment with radiation treatment.
5. External Radiation Treatment
The doctor uses a machine that directs high-energy beams (for example, protons and X-rays) at specific parts of the body to give radiation therapy. At the time of this treatment, you lie on the table, and the machine goes around you. If surgery is not a choice for you and after radioactive iodine therapy, the cancer cells continue to grow, the doctor may recommend external radiation treatment. You may also have this treatment after surgery in case there is a possibility of cancer reoccurrence.
6. Targeted Medicine Therapy
Targeted medicine treatments concentrate on particular abnormalities that are present in cancer cells. They destroy cancer cells completely by blocking the abnormalities. Targeted drug treatment for thyroid cancer focuses on the signals that trigger the cancer cells to divide and grow. This treatment is used in progressive thyroid cancer.
7. Alcohol Ablation Treatment
This form of treatment involves injecting alcohol into minor thyroid cancers using imaging—for instance, an ultrasound to ensure that the injection gets placed precisely. Alcohol ablation causes the cancers to pull back. It may be a choice if the cancer is minor and operation is not an option. It's as well used in the treatment of cancer that re-occurs in your lymph nodes.
8. Palliative or Supportive Care
This refers to specialized health care that aims at providing pain relief and alleviating other symptoms. The supportive care professionals operate with you, your family, and doctors to offer you an additional layer of support. This care may be utilized when undergoing aggressive treatments like chemotherapy, surgery, and radiation therapy. Usage of palliative care and other necessary treatments helps patients with cancer live longer and feel better. This care is offered by nurses, doctors, and other trained experts. The care teams aim at improving life quality for cancer patients and their families.
Finally, thyroid cancer is more prevalent in women than men. Every person should watch out for the symptoms discussed above. Also, note that, at the early stages, you might not notice any symptoms. This cancer is curable, and there are numerous methods used to treat it. The doctor recommends one of the above-discussed treatment methods if you are diagnosed with thyroid cancer.
This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author. This content has not been paid for by any advertiser nor does WhipCancer.org recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. WhipCancer.org does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment and information contained on this site is intended for informational purposes only. Please seek the advice of your physician or other professional healthcare provider with any questions you may have.