Thyroid cancer: Treatment and prognosis

Thyroid cancer is a very common form of endocrine disorder and like breast cancer, this too affects women more typically at a ratio of 3:1.

Thyroid is an endocrine gland present inside the lower front of the neck. It secretes hormones that control body functions and metabolism.

Patient of any age group irrespective of sex can be diagnosed with thyroid cancer. Once a doctor identity the type of thyroid cancer a patient has (there are four main types- papillary, follicular, mixed papillary-follicular, medullary, or anaplastic), the next step is to follow proper treatment and prognosis.

Doctors use techniques including physical exam, thyroid tests, other blood and imaging tests and a biopsy to diagnose thyroid cancer.

If it’s caught early, thyroid cancers are the most treatable forms of cancer. Treatment depends on the type of cancer you have and how far it has spread. Treatment options include surgery, radioactive iodine, hormone treatment, radiation therapy, thyroidectomy, chemotherapy or targeted therapy which uses substances that attack cancer cells without harming normal cells.

Thyroid surgery- This is the most common form of treatment and provides patients with the best outcomes.If performed by an expert surgeon, all major nerves, blood vessels, and muscles are spared in the surgery.

Extreme cases require complete thyroid removal plus a dissection to remove the lymph nodes of the front and sides of the neck.

Radioactive Iodine- It is given to the patients with certain types of thyroid cancers called “differentiated thyroid cancers” following complete removal of their thyroid gland. Radioactive iodine is not required in most cases. Patients do not feel sickness, hair loss, nausea, diarrhea, or pain as side-effects.

Only one type of thyroid cancer- anaplastic thyroid cancer- requires chemotherapy and radiation therapy as it is typically found after it has spread and is one of the most incurable cancers known to mankind.