Thursday, April 11, 2024

What To Do If You Have Thyroid Cancer

Considering Complementary And Alternative Methods

Thyroid Cancer Signs & Symptoms (& Why They Occur)

You may hear about alternative or complementary methods that your doctor hasnt mentioned to treat your cancer or relieve symptoms. These methods can include vitamins, herbs, and special diets, or other methods such as acupuncture or massage, to name a few.

Complementary methods refer to treatments that are used along with your regular medical care. Alternative treatments are used instead of a doctors medical treatment. Although some of these methods might be helpful in relieving symptoms or helping you feel better, many have not been proven to work. Some might even be harmful.

Be sure to talk to your cancer care team about any method you are thinking about using. They can help you learn what is known about the method, which can help you make an informed decision.

What Is The Thyroid

The thyroid gland is located in front of the neck. It looks sort of like a butterfly with one wing on each side of the neck. The thyroid is important in many ways for keeping your body healthy. It sends out certain chemicals that help control many activities in the body, such as breathing and pumping blood. The thyroid helps childrens bodies develop as they grow up, including getting taller and putting on muscle. It helps control weight and is also involved in other functions.

What To Do If You Suspect You Have Thyroid Cancer

So what do you do if you suspect that you have thyroid cancer or if you have any of the symptoms we discussed above?

The first step is to make an appointment with your Doctor and to determine what the actual cause is.

In most cases this visit will include the following:

  • Complete history and physical exam including thyroid exam, family history, and history of radiation exposure
  • Other blood tests such as inflammatory markers

These basic tests will provide significant information on your condition and may help guide further treatment and management.

If a thyroid nodule is found your doctor may also order a fine needle aspiration of the tissue and examine the tissue for thyroid cancer.

For most conditions it may be appropriate for your Doctor to simply monitor your condition and re-evaluate for changes with further imaging studies.

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How Thyroid Cancer Is Treated

In many cases, a team of doctors works together to create a patients overall treatment plan that combines different types of treatments. This is called a multidisciplinary team. For thyroid cancer, this team may include a surgeon, medical oncologist, radiation oncologist, radiologist, nuclear medicine physician, and endocrinologist. Cancer care teams include a variety of other health care professionals, such as physician assistants, nurse practitioners, oncology nurses, social workers, pharmacists, counselors, dietitians, speech therapists, and others.

Thyroid cancer is commonly treated by one or a combination of treatments. The common types of treatments used for thyroid cancer are listed below, followed by an outline of common cancer treatments given by stage of disease .

Treatment options and recommendations depend on several factors, including the type and stage of thyroid cancer, possible side effects, and the patient’s preferences and overall health. Take time to learn about your treatment options and be sure to ask questions about things that are unclear. Talk with your health care team about the goals of each treatment and what you can expect while receiving the treatment. These types of talks are called shared decision-making. Shared decision-making is when you and your doctors work together to choose treatments that fit the goals of your care. Shared decision-making is particularly important for thyroid cancer because there are different treatment options.

Which Cancers Have Recommended Screenings And How Well Do They Work

Thyroid Cancer Treatments

Currently, there are four types of cancers that have recommended screenings from the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force : breast, cervical, colorectal and lung cancers. The NORC report says that as of 2017, these four cancers made up 29% of all cancer cases and 25% of all cancer deaths in the U.S.

The study researchers found that the percent of cancers detected via screening varies depending on the type of cancer: 61% of breast cancers 52% of cervical cancers 45% of colon cancers and 3% of lung cancers.

While prostate cancer screening is not widely recommended by USPSTF, the report included data on it. It showed that 77% of prostate cancers were spotted by the relevant cancer screening.

The fact that only a handful of cancers have a recommended screening test means that about 57% of all diagnosed cancers currently do not have a recommended screening test, according to NORCs estimate. The research team reports that these diseases are typically found in patients with later-stage cancers that are more difficult to treat. In total, these diagnoses account for 70% of cancer-related deaths, NORC says.

Theres a lot of cancers that we dont routinely screen for theyre rare enough, Scott said. Those cancers are cancers that we dont have a screening test for, or a good diagnostic screening test for.

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How Is Thyroid Cancer Treated

To treat thyroid cancer, an ear, nose, and throat surgeon will remove part or all of the thyroid gland.

After thyroid surgery, children may need to take thyroid hormone pills. These replace the hormones the body can’t make without the thyroid gland.

Doctors may recommend a radioactive iodine scan and therapy to destroy any remaining thyroid cells after the surgery.

How Is Thyroid Cancer Diagnosed

If you have an enlarged thyroid nodule or other signs of thyroid cancer, your healthcare provider may order one or more of these tests:

  • Blood tests: A thyroid blood test checks hormone levels and gauges whether your thyroid is functioning properly.
  • Biopsy: During a fine-needle aspiration biopsy, your healthcare provider removes cells from your thyroid to test for cancer cells. A sentinel node biopsy can determine if cancer cells have spread to lymph nodes. Your provider may use ultrasound technology to guide these biopsy procedures.
  • Radioiodine scan: This test can detect thyroid cancer and determine if cancer has spread. You swallow a pill containing a safe amount of radioactive iodine . Over a few hours, your thyroid gland absorbs the iodine. Your healthcare provider uses a special device to measure the amount of radiation in the gland. Areas with less radioactivity need more testing to confirm the presence of cancer.
  • Imaging scans:Radioactive iodine scan, computed tomography and positron emission tomography scans can detect thyroid cancer and cancer spread.

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If Treatment Does Not Work

Recovery from thyroid cancer is not always possible. If the cancer cannot be cured or controlled, the disease may be called advanced or terminal.

This diagnosis is stressful, and for some people, advanced cancer is difficult to discuss. However, it is important to have open and honest conversations with your health care team to express your feelings, preferences, and concerns. The health care team has special skills, experience, and knowledge to support patients and their families and is there to help. Making sure a person is physically comfortable, free from pain, and emotionally supported is extremely important.

People who have advanced cancer and who are expected to live less than 6 months may want to consider hospice care. Hospice care is designed to provide the best possible quality of life for people who are near the end of life.

You and your family are encouraged to talk with the health care team about hospice care options, which include hospice care at home, a special hospice center, or other health care locations. Nursing care and special equipment can make staying at home a workable option for many families. Learn more about advanced cancer care planning.

After the death of a loved one, many people need support to help them cope with the loss. Learn more about grief and loss.

How Much Is Thyroid Cancer Travel Insurance

Ask Mayo Clinic: Thyroid Cancer

Here are some indicative quotes for single trip and annual travel insurance for thyroid cancer patients:

7 days trip to Europe*
18-35 years old

*Quotes above are only indicative and for thyroid cancer with no recent complications.

It is quite difficult to give precise ranges of how much thyroid cancer care travel insurance is. Prices are based on a wide range of criteria and will not only depend on your pre-existing medical condition, but also:

  • Your age and destination
  • If youre going for a single or annual multi-trip, as mentioned above
  • If youre subscribing to upgrades such as cruise, business or gadget cover
  • The length of your stay abroad
  • If youre travelling alone, with your partner, a group or your family
  • The financial limits youd like to get in case of a claim
  • The excess amount youre willing to pay
  • What you will be doing abroad .

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What If I Am Diagnosed With Thyroid Cancer After Having Applied For Travel Insurance

When it comes to medical condition travel insurance, insurers often add an ongoing duty of disclosure.

It basically means that if any important change related to your healthcare occurs after you applied for travel insurance policy, they have the right to either:

  • Screen you again

Most of the time, if your health condition changes, insurers will either:

  • Provide you with new travel insurance for your new health condition with an additional fee
  • Provide you the same insurance but the new condition will be excluded
  • Or simply offer no cover, as they consider your condition too risky.

Ask for a pro rata refund or full refund if they cancel or change your policy before you make any claim.

How Is Thyroid Cancer Treated In Children

Your childâs care will vary depending on the specific type of thyroid cancer they have. Components of thyroid cancer treatment may include the following.

Surgery is the first and most important treatment for thyroid cancer. Thoroughly and safely removing as much of the tumor as possible is important to ensure the best possible long-term outcome. This often includes removing the entire thyroid gland, and if necessary any lymph nodes in the neck that may contain thyroid cancer. This allows your doctors to form a complete diagnosis of the cancer type and obtain information on the stage of the disease, which will help determine if any further treatments are necessary.

Thyroid surgery is generally safe but rarely can have serious complications. For this reason, it is important that the procedure be performed by an experienced thyroid surgeon. Our thyroid surgeons have extensive experience in pediatric thyroid surgery and work closely with the rest of the team to provide seamless, coordinated care before, during, and after surgery.

Hormone therapy is used to replace normal hormones and slow the growth of cancer cells. If the entire thyroid was removed, lifelong treatment with thyroid medication is needed. In patients with high-risk thyroid cancer, giving a slight excess of thyroid medication may improve outcomes and reduce the risk of thyroid cancer recurrence.

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You Experience Voice Changes Or Hoarseness

We’re all familiar with the feeling of having a hoarse voice after a cold . But if that raspy feeing doesn’t go away, it could be a sign of thyroid cancer.

Other voice changes that can occur with the disease are a “low voice, roughness, reduced range, and vocal fatigue,” according to a Sept. 2019 article published in the Eurasian Journal of Medicine, which notes that “trembling voice, reduced intensity of voice, and audible breathing” can also signal the disease.

Can I Prevent Thyroid Cancer

How Common is Thyroid Cancer in a Nodule?

Many people develop thyroid cancer for no known reason, so prevention isnât really possible. But if you know youâre at risk for thyroid cancer, you may be able to take these steps:

  • Preventive surgery: Genetic tests can determine if you carry an altered gene that increases your risk for medullary thyroid cancer or multiple endocrine neoplasia. If you have the faulty gene, you may opt to have preventive surgery to remove your thyroid gland before cancer develops.
  • Potassium iodide: If youâve had radiation exposure during a nuclear disaster, such as the 2011 incident at Fukushima, Japan, taking potassium iodide within 24 hours of exposure can lower your risk of eventually getting thyroid cancer. Potassium iodide blocks your thyroid gland from absorbing too much radioiodine. As a result, your gland stays healthy.

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Just Diagnosed With Thyroid Cancer: Time For Surgery

Thyroid surgery for thyroid cancer is the mainstay of treatment and cure. So, once you have been diagnosed with thyroid cancer, you can bet there is surgery in your future. There are different types of thyroid surgery performed for thyroid cancer. The training, qualifications, and experience of your thyroid surgeon and their team are crucial for achieving excellent outcomes and almost eliminating complications. Below are the most common and effective surgeries to treat thyroid cancer and what you should expect afterwards.

The thyroid lobectomy or thyroid lobectomy with isthmusectomy is typically the “smallest” operation performed on the thyroid gland for thyroid cancer. This surgery involves removing half of the thyroid gland or half of the thyroid and the entire isthmus and is appropriate for many thyroid cancers. The surgery is brief, usually lasting no more than 30-45 minutes, and spares all parathyroid glands as well as all important nerves to the voice box . Even for larger thyroid cancers, the incision is small and cosmetically designed to be almost unnoticeable.

  • The central neck and swallowing tube
  • The lateral neck
  • The posterolateral neck
  • Recovery after thyroid cancer surgery

    Additional Treatment for Thyroid Cancer

    Some people need radioactive iodine treatment after thyroid cancer surgery. We discuss radioactive iodine, how it works, and who needs it in another blog.

    Follow- Up After Thyroid Cancer Treatment


    Additional Resources

    After A Diagnosis Of Thyroid Cancer

    After a diagnosis of thyroid cancer you may feel disbelief, uncertainty, fear and anxiety. There is no right or wrong way to feel and experiencing a range of emotions is normal. While the most common types of thyroid cancers have a very good long-term prognosis, you may still feel shocked and confused. It may help to talk to family and friends about how you are feeling.

    Ask your specialist to explain treatment options and any potential side effects and financial concerns. Take as much time as you can so that you can make well-informed decisions.

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    Questions To Ask The Doctor

    • What treatment do you think is best for me?
    • Whats the goal of this treatment? Do you think it could cure the cancer?
    • Will this treatment affect my ability to have children? Do I need to avoid pregnancy for a while?
    • Will treatment include surgery? If so, who will do the surgery?
    • What will the surgery be like?
    • Will I need other types of treatment, too? Whats the goal of these treatments?
    • What side effects could I have from these treatments?
    • What can I do about side effects that I might have?
    • Is there a clinical trial that might be right for me?
    • What about special vitamins or diets that friends tell me about? How will I know if they are safe?
    • How soon do I need to start treatment?
    • What should I do to be ready for treatment?
    • Is there anything I can do to help the treatment work better?
    • Whats the next step?

    Thyroid Cancer: Common In Women

    Thyroid Cancer (Papillary, Follicular, Medullary & Anaplastic) | Symptoms, Diagnosis, Treatment

    Thyroid disorders are more common in women, probably due to the roles of hormones, which are different in femalesthan in males.

    Thyroid nodules, Russell says, affect up to 80 percent of women, but only 5percent to 15 percent of those lumps and bumps are malignant. Bettertesting means thyroid tumors are on the rise, he notes, saying that itsprojected to become the third most common cancer.

    Malignant and cancer are scary words, but Russell says that mostthyroid cancer is highly treatable, even when the cancer cells spread tonearby lymph nodes, which occurs frequently.

    With thyroid cancer we talk about prognosis in terms of 20-year survivalinstead of five years, as we do with most other cancers. Its usually aslow-moving disease. Theres a 98 to 99 percent survival rate at 20 years,he says.

    We treat it almost like a chronic condition where the patient getstreatment and visits her doctor regularly for follow-up.

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    What To Do If You Notice Signs Of Thyroid Cancer

    If you experience signs of thyroid cancer, its important to consult with your doctor to get an accurate diagnosis.

    First, your doctor may conduct a physical examination, manually palpating your neck and throat to check for abnormal growths or areas of swelling, including the thyroid and lymph nodes. Your doctor may also gather your personal and family medical history, ask about your symptoms and risk factors, including any inherited genetic mutations.

    A blood test called a tumor marker test may be recommended to check for high levels of certain hormones, such as:

    • Triiodothyronine
    • Thyroid-stimulating hormone

    If cancer is suspected, one or more of the following diagnostic tests may be ordered:

    Ultrasound. An ultrasound over the neck region may be done to locate any nodules that are present on your thyroid and determine whether theyre made up of solid or liquid material.

    Chest X-ray: This basic imaging test may be done if your doctor suspects the cancer has metastasized to your lungs.

    Magnetic resonance imaging scan: Using magnets, an MRI scan creates highly detailed images of the thyroid and surrounding areas.

    Computed tomography scan or positron emission tomography scan: A CT scan uses contrast dye that helps your doctor pinpoint the size and location of your cancer, and whether it has metastasized to surrounding tissues. A PET scan is similar but uses an injection of radioactive sugar instead of contrast dye .

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