Get to know about the Thyroid Cancer and Treatment Options

Get to know about the Thyroid Cancer and Treatment Options

Thyroid cancer develops in the thyroid gland. It is a thumb-sized and butterfly-shaped gland at the base of the neck, in front of the wing pipe, and below Adam’s apple. The thyroid gland stimulates hormones that regulate metabolism (how the body utilizes energy). These hormones also control the body temperature, blood pressure, and heart rate. The thyroid gland is among the other glands that make up the endocrine system. Thyroid cancer is a type of endocrine cancer that is commonly highly treatable with an incredible cure rate. Thyroid cancer treatment depends upon the overall health of the patient, tumor size, and whether cancer has spread.

Diagnosis 

Several tests and procedures can diagnose thyroid cancer. These include:

  • Physical exam
  • Blood tests
  • Ultrasound imaging
  • Removing a sample of thyroid tissue
  • Other imaging tests (CT, MRI, etc.)
  • Genetic testing

 

Treatment  

Thyroid cancer treatment involves one or a combination of treatment techniques. Different types of treatments involve:

 

  1. Surgery- 

The tumor and surrounding healthy tissue are removed during an operation. Many people with thyroid cancer undergo surgery to remove the thyroid. A surgical oncologist specializes in treating thyroid cancer with surgery. Depending on the size of cancer, the type of cancer, and whether it has spread, surgical options include:

  • Thyroidectomy- This procedure involves removing the thyroid gland. It might concern removing all of the thyroid tissue (total thyroidectomy) or most of the thyroid tissue (near-total thyroidectomy).
  • Thyroid lobectomy- The procedure includes removal of half of the thyroid. It’s in the case of slow-growing thyroid cancer in one part of the thyroid. And if there are no suspicious nodules in other areas. 
  • Lymph node dissection-The surgeon may remove nearby lymph nodes in the neck while removing the thyroid. Tests for signs of cancer are conducted through these.

 

  1. Hormone Treatment-   
  • In addition to replacing the hormone required by the body, thyroid hormone medication restricts the development of remaining differentiated cancer cells. 
  • A thyroid hormone substitute is given by an endocrinologist, a doctor specializing in problems with hormones, glands, and the endocrine system.
  • The pills may have some side effects. Sometimes, patients develop a rash or lose hair during the early months of treatment.
  • Hyperthyroidism means too much thyroid hormone, and hypothyroidism means too little thyroid hormone.
  • The necessary thyroid hormone differs for each patient and tumor type and changes with age or weight. 
  • The doctor monitors hormone levels through routine blood tests.
  1. Radioactive Iodine Therapy-
  • This thyroid cancer treatment uses large doses of a form of iodine that’s radioactive. 
  • It’s used after thyroidectomy to eliminate remaining healthy thyroid tissues and spots of thyroid cancer left during surgery. 
  • It also treats thyroid cancer that recurs or spreads to other body parts.
  • This treatment comes as a capsule or liquid to swallow. The radioactive iodine is immersed mainly by thyroid cells and thyroid cancer cells.
  • Side effects may comprise dry mouth, mouth pain, eye inflammation, altered sense of taste or smell, fatigue.
  • Most radioactive iodine leaves the body in urine in the first few days. 
  • Some precautions need to be taken to protect others from the radiation. 
  1. External Radiation Therapy-   
  • External-beam radiation is a type of external radiation therapy in which high-energy x-rays aim at precise points to destroy cancer cells. 
  • The therapy schedule consists of a precise number of treatments given over a set time. 
  • External-beam radiation therapy is used in specific cases of thyroid cancer. 
  • Generally, in the case when later-stage thyroid cancer has spread to vital parts of the neck like the trachea, voice box, or esophagus. 
  • Radiation therapy is usually considered after surgery and is concentrated on a specific area, only affecting cancer cells. 
  • It is not used in young patients with thyroid cancer. 
  • Side effects may include redness of the skin, painful swallowing, cough, occasional hoarseness, nausea, and fatigue. 
  1. Chemotherapy-   
  • It is a drug treatment using chemicals for killing cancer cells. 
  • Chemotherapy infusion takes place through a vein. The chemical goes throughout the body, quickly killing growing cells, including the cancer cells. 
  • The treatment of thyroid cancer does not commonly involve chemotherapy. 
  • But it’s advised for people with anaplastic thyroid cancer where chemotherapy and radiation therapy may be combined.
  1. Targeted Drug Therapy-    
  • Targeted drug treatments concentrate on distinct abnormalities present within cancer cells. 
  • These abnormalities are blocked, and targeted drug treatments cause cancer cells to die.
  • This therapy targets the signals telling cancer cells to grow and divide and is used in advanced thyroid cancer.
  1. Injecting Alcohol into Cancers-   
  • Alcohol ablation concerns infiltrating small thyroid cancers with alcohol using imaging like ultrasound to ensure accurate placement of the injection. 
  • Alcohol injection causes thyroid cancers to shrink.
  • Alcohol ablation might be an option if the cancer is small and surgery is not an alternative. 
  • It is also occasionally used to treat cancer that returns in the lymph nodes after surgery.

Conclusion

In some people, cancer may never grow and never require thyroid cancer treatment. Growth may ultimately be detected in others, and treatment can be initiated. Tiny thyroid cancers have a low risk of spreading in the body and may not need treatment right away. Instead, the doctor might consider active surveillance with frequent monitoring.

Amy Jackson