Thyroid cancer is the abnormal growth or multiplication of the thyroid gland’s cells and tissues and the capacity to invade other parts of the body. The thyroid is a gland situated at the bottom of the neck below Adam’s apple. It is a butterfly-shaped gland that produces the hormones Thyroxine, triiodothyronine, and calcitonin. The hormones are directly or indirectly responsible for controlling the body’s metabolism, growth, and energy utilization.
There are various thyroid cancer symptoms that can appear common or go unnoticed.
There can be more symptoms of thyroid cancer that are not documented yet.
There are a few factors and thyroid cancer causes:
Basically, there are five thyroid cancer types.
During a physical examination, the doctor will check for the presence of thyroid nodules. Thyroid nodules are relatively common, and the presence of one is not immediately associated with cancer. If the thyroid nodules are growing in size and cause physical symptoms like hoarseness of voice, pain in the neck, swollen lymph nodes, etc., the doctor will refer the patient for further tests.
The TSH levels, T4, and T3 levels are checked in the blood test. The presence of thyroid antibodies in serum is also accounted for. These tests assist in differentiating other thyroid diseases like Hashimoto’s thyroiditis from thyroid cancer symptoms.
Various imaging tests like MRI, CT scan, PET scan is employed, but ultrasonography is the most widely used imaging test. It is a non-invasive test that helps determine the size, texture, position, and other parameters of the enlarged nodules.
The biopsy of the thyroid tissue is obtained by using a needle and a syringe. The tissue specimen is compared with the Bethesda system to determine whether it is benign or malignant.
The Iodine-123 radioisotope is used as a radioactive marker agent for the test. If the thyroid nodules take up the iodine normally, and subsequently low TSH levels are found, it is called a hot nodule and is considered non-cancerous. But if the nodule doesn’t take up iodine, then it is called a cold nodule and can be considered benign or malignant.
Surgical treatments are done for removing aberrant tissues of the thyroid gland from the body. As surgery is a major procedure, the doctor might recommend you go for surgery only when the tumor is large or spread to the different parts, including the thyroid. Surgeries that are performed on thyroid cancer might remove all the thyroid tissues or some tissues containing tumors. The procedure is commonly referred to as thyroidectomy; it has different subtypes like Hemithyroidectomy, Subtotal thyroidectomy, Partial thyroidectomy, and Hartley Dunhill operation.
In radioactive iodine radiation therapy, radioactive iodine doses are given to shrink or kill the tumor cells. In this treatment, nausea, vomiting, and neck swelling may occur as per the given treatment; it can be mild radiation or intense radiation. In radioactive iodine treatment, there is a capsule or liquid taken up by the cancerous cell; thus, there is a low risk of harming other cells. However, this treatment has some side effects such as dry mouth, mouth pain, eye inflammation, fatigue.
In external radiation therapy of thyroid cancer, high-energy particles are deployed to destroy the cancerous cell and kill their growth. Here, the machines emit high-energy protons on specific points of the body. The types of thyroid cancers mostly treated with external radiation therapy are medullary thyroid cancer and anaplastic thyroid cancer.
Chemotherapy is not the first choice for thyroid cancer treatment; it is only employed when other treatment methods are insufficient. Chemotherapeutic drugs like Dacarbazine, Vincristine, Doxorubicin, Fluorouracil, etc., are used, along with external radiation therapy.
Target therapy is done with tyrosine kinase inhibitors, thyrotropin hormone, and levothyroxine. These pseudo hormones are given as supplements after the thyroid gland is completely destroyed, or unable to produce thyroid hormones anymore. Other drugs used for thyroid cancer treatment are Cabozantinib, Vandetanib, Lenvatinib, and Trametinib.
If the cancer size is very small, alcohol ablation might be the option for treatment. In this procedure, radiologists inject small thyroid cancer tissues with alcohol to ensure precise placement of the syringe.
Palliative care is a specialized treatment that concentrates on providing relief from pain. It offers additional support for ongoing care.
Is thyroid cancer curable?
Most thyroid cancers are curable; however, when the person reaches stage four of anaplastic or Hurthle cell thyroid cancer, the treatments can become ineffective.
Can Ayurveda treat thyroid cancer?
Ayurveda can effectively treat thyroid cancer; however, it shouldn’t be used as a replacement as it cannot complete the standard procedures necessary to remove the malignancy or metastasis of cells. Medicines such as ashwagandha can treat hypoparathyroidism, thyroid problems, etc. However, Ayurveda needs time and depends on the body’s requirements.
Are thyroid diagnosis tests painful?
Imaging tests like Ultrasonography, CT Scan, MRI, etc., are not painful. The same thing can be said about blood tests, physical examination, and Radioiodine marker tests. However, a biopsy can be a bit painful.
How much time is required to obtain the results for thyroid cancer?
The answer depends on what type of test you have done. If it is a physical examination, and you are not suspected of having cancer, you can get your results instantly. But if cancer or some other conditions are suspected, results from tests like imaging tests, biopsy, and blood tests can be produced in 3 days and even 2 weeks.
What is the cost of thyroid cancer treatment?
It depends on what stage of cancer the patient is dealing with. If the cancer is in the earlier stage, the treatment will usually include drug therapy, radiation therapy, and surgery and can take a few weeks. The cost can be between $8,000 to $10,000. But if the cancer is in a later stage, then the treatment can prolong, with the estimated cost between $12,000 to $15,000.