Millions of individuals worldwide are affected by cancer. Cancer is challenging to treat as it may develop in any area of the body and has the potential to spread to other areas. One of the various cancers that can damage the body is thyroid cancer. Thyroid cancer is a rare condition that affects the tiny, butterfly-shaped gland in the neck. Thyroid cancer develops when the DNA of thyroid cells is altered, leading to the cells’ uncontrollable growth and development of a lump.
While there are several factors that can raise the risk of thyroid cancer, the real cause of what changes this is not clear. A family history of thyroid cancer is also mentioned to be a reason for cancer along with radiation exposure as a child, obesity, Familial Adenomatous Polyposis (FAP) and more.
The stages of thyroid cancer vary depending on the type. A number between 1 and 4 defines the stage of cancer. A lower number typically indicates that the cancer is more likely to react to therapy and that it only affects the thyroid. While a higher number means that cancer may have progressed to the body’s organs outside of the thyroid. For instance, there are different stages for medullary and anaplastic thyroid tumours. Papillary, follicular, Hurthle cell, and poorly differentiated thyroid cancer types all go through the same stages. Also, it’s important to note that the stage for differentiated thyroid cancers may change with age.
Diagnosis of Thyroid Cancer
Physical Examination: During a physical examination, a physician will look for lumps or enlarged lymph nodes in the patient’s neck during this examination. This is the first step to detection.
Imaging Studies: To investigate, imaging studies like ultrasound, computed tomography (CT), or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) are used on the patient.
Biopsy: A biopsy is the only definitive way to diagnose thyroid cancer. It includes extracting a small piece of thyroid tissue and analysing it under a microscope to check for the presence of malignancy. This is done for many other cancers as well.
Once a thyroid cancer diagnosis has been done, the staging technique may be used to evaluate whether the disease has progressed to other bodily parts.
Treatment of Thyroid Cancer
While the type and stage of cancer will determine the available treatments for thyroid cancer, the most typical therapies for thyroid cancer include:
Surgery: The primary course of action for thyroid cancer is routine surgery. Through a surgery, the aim is to eliminate the thyroid gland’s malignant tissue. It is the degree of the malignancy that will determine whether the surgeon needs to remove the entire thyroid gland or just the cancerous tissue.
Radioactive Iodine Therapy: To remove any leftover malignant tissue after surgery, radioactive iodine therapy is usually advised. A dose of radioactive iodine is administered to the patient, and the cancerous cells are eliminated after being absorbed by the patient’s remaining thyroid tissue.
External radiation therapy: High-energy radiation is utilised in external radiation therapy to eliminate cancer cells. It is applied to thyroid cancer that has progressed or migrated to other bodily areas.
Chemotherapy: Thyroid cancer is not routinely treated with chemotherapy. It is often saved for advanced thyroid cancer cases that have not responded to previous therapies.
Thyroid Hormone Therapy: After thyroid gland removal surgery, the patient will require a lifetime thyroid hormone replacement medication. This therapy is important to successfully replace the hormones the thyroid gland would typically make.
A timely diagnosis and course of therapy are essential for treating thyroid cancer which is a serious cancer but curable too at the same time. Visiting a doctor as soon as any lumps or swelling in the neck is discovered as a crucial step. The prognosis for thyroid cancer is typically good with early discovery and adequate treatment. While cancer is a disease that scares when heard of, understanding and patience will help provide the right cure.