[Infographic] Thyroid Cancer – Types and Treatment Options


Thyroid Gland

Thyroid Gland and How it Affects Our Health, courtesy of CNAClassesFreeInfo.com

A diagnosis of thyroid cancer can be a frightening thing to consider, but understanding what the thyroid is, its functions, as well as the causes of thyroid cancer and the treatment plans available can help demystify thyroid cancer and can help thyroid cancer patients feel more confident in fighting and managing the disease.

Thyroid Cancer

The thyroid is a gland that sits towards the base of the neck, wrapping around the esophagus. The gland itself is butterfly shaped and functions to producing thyroid hormones that regulate digestive and metabolic health. Growths to this gland can happen when the thyroid isn’t producing enough thyroid hormone for the body (a condition known as hypothyroidism,) or when the thyroid is producing too much thyroid hormone for the body (a condition known as hyperthyroidism.)

When the whole thyroid gland becomes enlarged, this is known as a diffuse goiter. Diffuse goiters are typically the result of abnormal thyroid function. Small diffuse goiters might not need any medical treatment, but large ones can be treated by a doctor with supplements, injections, or surgery if necessary. When the thyroid gland becomes enlarged in with growths or bumps that are on the gland, instead of an enlargement of the gland itself, these are called nodular goiters. Some nodes that occur with nodular goiters can be malignant but most are benign. According to the American Thyroid Association, two in every twenty thyroid nodules are cancerous.

Of these cancerous Thyroid nodules, there are three main types of thyroid cancer.  Differentiated thyroid cancer, Medullary thyroid cancer, and Anaplastic thyroid cancer.

Differentiated thyroid cancer is made up of three different types: papillary, follicular, and Hṻrthle cell cancer. Eight out of ten thyroid cancers are Papillary, making it the most common type. Though common and with a risk of spreading to the lymph nodes, Paipillary thyroid cancer usually has a good prognosis and recovery rate. Follicular cancer makes up for about one in every ten cases of thyroid cancer and usually occurs from diets that are low in iodine. Hṻrthle cell cancer makes up to three percent of all thyroid cancers and is usually more difficult to treat and to diagnose.  

Medullary thyroid cancer or MCT makes up about four percent of all thyroid cancers. MCT is typically hard to diagnose, because the cancer has a tendency to spread before nodules are discovered. The two types of MCT are Sporadic MCT (non-inhereted) and Familial MCT (runs in families.) MCT is typically difficult to diagnose and to treat, as it can spread to the lungs, the lymph nodes and the liver.

Thyroid cancer can be caused by genetics (familial mct) or by an overactive or underactive thyroid, or exposure to radiation. As with all types of cancer, early detection and treatment is key to recovering from thyroid cancer. If you see or feel a bump on your Addams apple, if your neck is swollen, if you have difficulty breathing and swallowing, or a constant cough, see your doctor as soon as possible to be tested for thyroid cancer.

Lobectomy

Image Courtesy of cancer.gov


There are several treatments, many often used in conjunction with one another, to treat thyroid cancer. Surgery, in some form, is almost always used as a treatment to thyroid cancer, along with chemotherapy, thyroid hormone therapy (if the thyroid is removed,) radioiodine therapy, and radiation therapy. A lobectomy refers to a procedure that removes whichever of the two lobes of the thyroid has cancer, as well as the isthmus, the bridge that connects the two lobes. Since part of the thyroid is left in the body, patients who have lobectomies might not need to take thyroid hormone pills after their surgery. A thyroidectomy is a procedure where the whole thyroid (or as much of it as possible) is removed. 

Thyroidectomies are the most common form of surgery used to treat thyroid cancer. Because there is no thyroid left to produce thyroid hormones, patients who receive thyroidectomies will have to take supplementary daily thyroid hormone pills. However, it is easier for a doctor to test for disease recurrence after a thyroidectomy than it is to test after a lobectomy, because the test they use (a radioiodine scan) finds all thyroid cells, not just cancerous ones. If the cancer spreads to the lymph nodes in the neck, they too will be removed in a thyroidectomy. Depending on how much the cancer has spread, other lymph nodes may also have to be removed. 

Surgery is often used in conjunction with Radioiodine therapy. In liquid or capsule forms, radioiodine can find thyroid cells when testing for cancer resurgence, but can also be used to destroy any remaining thyroid cells or thyroid cancer cells without damaging the rest of the body.

A cancer diagnosis can be scary, but by learning about the treatments and symptoms for thyroid cancer, patients can detect the disease early and be more confident and aggressive in it’s treatment.

Christine

About the Author

Christine

As a women who has hypothyroidism, I would like to share all of my knowledge to all of you about hypothyroidism and how can you make change of your life.

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