A doctor removes some of the thyroid tissue for examination under a microscope. The most common type of biopsy is called a fine needed aspiration, alternatively a doctor may do a hemi-thyroidectomy to remove tissue sample. This test is usually done if blood tests indicate an overactive thyroid hyperthyroidism.
A small amount of radioactive liquid such as iodine is injected into a vein in your arm prior to a gamma camera scan being done. The amount of radioactive liquid taken up by the thyroid gland is then measured. If cancer is detected in your thyroid, you may have other scans to see if the cancer has spread to other parts of your body, such as a CT, MRI or PET scan. Most people with thyroid cancer receive a combination of treatments from surgery, thyroid hormone replacement therapy, radioactive iodine treatment, radiotherapy or chemotherapy.
This will depend on the type and stage of thyroid cancer you have. The most common form of treatment is surgery , whereby a section or the whole thyroid gland is removed partial or total thyroidectomy. As a preventative measure, the surgeon may also remove nearby lymph nodes called a neck dissection. Thyroid hormone replacement therapy is given as a daily tablet to replace the thyroid hormones thyroxine or T4 that your body can no longer produce after surgery. If you have had thyroid surgery you will need Thyroxine replacement for the rest of your life as it is very important to keep your body functioning at a normal healthy rate.
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A form of internal radiotherapy, Radioactive iodine treatment is typically taken in a gel tablet form. It destroys any cancer cells left behind after surgery. Talk to your doctor about the safety measures required for this type of treatment. External radiotherapy the use of high energy X-rays may be given after surgery, particularly if the cancer has spread to lymph nodes in the neck, or for thyroid cancers that are less responsive to radioactive iodine treatment such as medullary or anaplastic thyroid cancers.
Chemotherapy is sometimes used to treat thyroid cancer that is not responding to radioactive iodine treatment. It is usually given as a drug that is injected into a vein intravenously. Depending on your treatment, your treatment team may consist of a number of different health professionals, such as:.
In some cases of thyroid cancer, your medical team may talk to you about palliative care. Palliative care aims to improve your quality of life by alleviating symptoms of cancer.
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As well as slowing the spread of thyroid cancer, palliative treatment can relieve pain and help manage other symptoms. Treatment may include radiotherapy, chemotherapy or other drug therapies. It is not possible for a doctor to predict the exact course of a disease, as it will depend on each person's individual circumstances.
The thyroid gland
However, your doctor may give you a prognosis, the likely outcome of the disease, based on the type of thyroid cancer you have, the test results, the rate of tumour growth, as well as your age, fitness and medical history. The most common types of thyroid cancer have very good long-term prognosis, especially if the cancer is found early. However, if familial medullary thyroid cancer is detected in a family, the rest of the family can be tested for the mutated gene.
If a family member has the mutated gene, they can elect to have preventative treatment, such as surgery to remove the thyroid. Last medical review of source booklet: January Having a risk factor, or even several risk factors, does not mean that you will get the disease. And many people who get the disease may have few or no known risk factors. Even if a person with thyroid cancer has a risk factor, it is very hard to know how much that risk factor may have contributed to the cancer. There is no known prevention.
Awareness of risk such as previous radiation therapy to the neck can allow earlier diagnosis and treatment. Thyroid cancer most often begins as a lump or nodule on or in the thyroid gland. In general, the symptoms will relate to the presence of this lump or nodule: A lump in the neck, sometimes growing quickly Swelling in the neck Pain in the front of the neck, sometimes going up to the ears Hoarseness or other voice changes that do not go away Trouble swallowing Trouble breathing A constant cough that is not due to a cold.
It's important to note that nearly all thyroid cancers have little to no symptoms; and lab tests for thyroid cancer often come back negative even when there is cancer. The best screening method -- and the best course of action should you display any of the above symptoms -- is to have your doctor check your neck on a regular basis. Gender and age It's unclear why, but thyroid cancers like almost all diseases of the thyroid occur about 3 times more often in women than in men. Thyroid cancer can occur at any age, but the risk peaks earlier for women who are most often in their 40s or 50s when diagnosed than for men who are usually in their 60s or 70s.
In the United States, most people get enough iodine in their diet because it is added to table salt and other foods.
A diet low in iodine may also increase the risk of papillary cancer if the person also is exposed to radioactivity. Radiation Exposure to radiation is a proven risk factor for thyroid cancer.
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Sources of such radiation include certain medical treatments and radiation fallout from power plant accidents or nuclear weapons. Having had head or neck radiation treatments in childhood is a risk factor for thyroid cancer. Risk depends on how much radiation is given and the age of the child.