Thyroid Cancer

  • Overview

  • Symptoms

  • Diagnosis

  • Treatment

Overview

Thyroid is a small gland located in the front of the neck below the larynx (voice box). It makes the hormones that regulate your metabolism, heart rate, temperature and mental functioning. 90% of thyroid tumours are non-cancerous. Women are thrice as likely to develop this cancer.

Early Symptoms

 Thyroid cancer usually does not produce any symptoms apart from small, painless lumps in the front of the neck. Other symptoms that may occur due to the disease are:

  • Trouble in swallowing
  • Hoarseness or breathing problems
  • Chronic pain in the neck or throat
  • A persistent cough

Diagnosis

  • Review of medical history
  • Examination of the thyroid gland, throat, vocal chords and lymph nodes
  • Ultrasound,CT,MRI
  • Blood tests
  • Molecular testing
  • Biopsy

Treatment

Surgery: Usually, surgery is the only form of treatment for thyroid cancer. Depending on the type of tumour and its metastasis, one of the following operations may be indicated:

  • Near-total or total thyroidectomy: Your entire thyroid gland is removed or almost all of it.
  • Lobectomy: the tumour is removed along with one lobe of the thyroid gland.
  • Minimally invasive surgeries: To treat small or low-risk tumours, the surgeon removes the tumour through a tiny cut in the neck and removes all or part of the thyroid. Minimally invasive thyroidectomies are video-assisted and the tumour is removed through a small incision.
  • Lymphadenectomy: Also called lymph node dissection, this is a procedure wherein the surgeon removes the nearby lymph nodes if the cancer has spread to them.

Thyroid Hormone Therapy: Normal hormonal balance is extremely important for health and preventing cancers from resurfacing. If the thyroid or a part of it has been surgically removed, you will be given thyroid replacement medication to restore the hormone levels.

Radioactive Iodine (RAI) Therapy: In this procedure, patients are orally given a dose of radioactive iodine. The cancerous thyroid cells absorb the iodine and are killed but healthy cells do not absorb the iodine. RAI therapy is usually recommended after surgery to destroy any abnormal cells left over.

Treatments for Advanced Cancers: Doctors may use other therapies in more advanced cases of thyroid cancer or if the cancer has returned. While another surgery may be recommended, head and neck specialists may get involved to preserve voice quality and the parathyroid gland. Chemoradiation, a combination of chemotherapy and radiation may also be administered. If the cancer keeps coming back, high doses of radiation may be given in what is called external beam radiation therapy. Medications may also be given to prevent bone loss or fracture.