Treating Thyroid Cancer: An Expert's Guide

Thyroid cancer is a highly treatable form of cancer, with most cases having an excellent prognosis. Surgery is the most common treatment for thyroid cancer, and may involve the removal of part or all of the thyroid gland. Other treatments include hormonal therapy, radioactive iodine, radiation, and in some cases chemotherapy. This article will provide an expert's guide to treating thyroid cancer. When it comes to treating thyroid cancer, surgery is the most common option.

Depending on the size and severity of the cancer, a lobectomy or partial thyroidectomy may be performed to remove part of the thyroid gland, or a total thyroidectomy may be performed to remove the entire gland. These operations are performed under general anesthesia and are important for eliminating the cancer. After surgery, radioactive iodine therapy may be used to destroy any remaining thyroid tissue. This treatment is administered orally and is absorbed by thyroid cells and cancer cells, with a low risk of damaging other cells in the body. Targeted anticancer drugs may also be used to target differences in cancer cells that help them grow and survive. If you are pregnant or breastfeeding, you should not have diagnostic tests or radioactive treatments.

If you are diagnosed with thyroid cancer during pregnancy, your healthcare provider can discuss treatment options with you. Depending on the type and severity of the cancer, your provider may recommend delaying treatment until after the baby is born. If treatment can't wait, most women can safely undergo surgery to remove the cancerous gland. The American Cancer Society offers programs and services to help you during and after cancer treatment. The PDQ database contains summaries of the most recent published information on cancer prevention, screening, genetics, treatment, supportive care, and complementary and alternative medicine. The American Thyroid Association (ATA) Thyroid Nodules and Differentiated Thyroid Cancer Working Group provides detailed information about specific types of cancer, including risk factors, early detection, diagnosis and treatment options.

Radioactive iodine ablation (RAI) is used to destroy any thyroid tissue left after a thyroidectomy. Patients with medullary thyroid cancer will also have their blood tested for calcitonin and CEA (carcinoembryonic antigen) levels. Participating in a clinical trial of newer treatments is another option. Most papillary thyroid cancers that are smaller than 3 to 4 centimeters and limited to the thyroid are low-risk. This means that on average you are approximately 80% more likely to live at least five years after diagnosis than a person who does not have metastatic papillary thyroid cancer. Thyroid cancer is highly treatable with excellent prognosis for most cases. Surgery is the most common treatment for thyroid cancer, but other treatments such as hormonal therapy, radioactive iodine, radiation and chemotherapy may also be used depending on the type and severity of the cancer.

If you are pregnant or breastfeeding you should not have diagnostic tests or radioactive treatments.

Greta Rulnick
Greta Rulnick

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