Treatment Options and Therapies for Thyroid Cancer
Thyroid cancer is the cancer in the thyroid gland, an endocrine organ which produces hormones that control the speed of metabolism. Read more about thyroid cancer here.
Depending on the diagnostic results of the tests, doctors evaluate the signs and symptoms of the thyroid cancer and accordingly suggest the best treatment to treat the cancer. The treatment given is particularly based on the type and stage of thyroid cancer, and the overall health of the patient. Following are the treatment options for thyroid cancer:
Surgery for thyroid cancer:
Surgical treatments are one of the most common treatments for thyroid cancers, the different types of surgical treatments used for curing thyroid cancers are:
This treatment aims in removing of most of the cancer tumour in the thyroid gland and is the most recommended treatment for this cancer type. The surgeon makes incisions (small cuts) at the base of your neck, where the thyroid gland is present to access the tumour. In most patients, small rims of the thyroid tissue are left around the parathyroid gland in order to minimize the risk of parathyroid damage. It has the advantage of monitoring for recurrence through radioiodine scans. If the entire thyroid gland is removed, it is called total thyroidectomy and if not it is called near total thyroidectomy.
Removal of lymph nodes:
The surgical removal of lymph nodes near the neck is one of the most important procedure in treating thyroid cancer. As a result, the enlarged lymph nodes in the neck region are removed.
This surgical procedure aims in removing a part of the thyroid and is prefered when the cancer has not spread beyond the lobe and is not showing signs of spreading to the other parts of the body.
Thyroid hormone therapy:
After thyroidectomy or other surgical procedures for treating the cancer, the patient’s blood samples will be tested for the levels of hormones, particularly the TSH. Depending on these results, thyroid hormone medication may be prescribed to the patients. Often, levothyroxine is recommended which is a combination of levoxyl, synthroid and a few other drugs. The levothyroxine restores the hormones that the thyroid is deficient in producing and also obstructs the production of the TSH which is is responsible for the simulation of the cancer cells. Patients are often recommended to continue this medication for a long-time post treatment, sometimes even for life.
Radioactive iodine treatment:
This treatment is often given post surgical procedures to remove the residual thyroid cancer that could not be removed by surgeries. It also used in treating recurrent or metastasized thyroid cancer. High doses of a particular form of iodine, which is radioactive is used in the treatment. It is often taken orally in the form of a capsule or liquid. The iodine targets the thyroid cells and thyroid cancer cells, which reduces the risk of harming blood cells in other organs. The initial iodine that has been consumed leaved the body in the form of urine. A few precautions are mandatory for the patients to follow during the procedure. Know more about radioiodine therapy for thyroid here.
This is one of the most common treatments given to patients who are not recommended for surgical procedures or for recurring thyroid cancers. Radiation therapy involves the external projection of high energy X rays to the affected areas. This aims in killing the cancerous cells using the radiation. During the treatment, the patient is instructed to lie on a table without moving and a machine moves around the patient projecting the X ray beams in different angles. Know more about radiotherapy for thyroid here.
It uses chemotherapeutic drugs to kill, and restrict the growth and division of the thyroid cancer cells. It. Is given intravenously, to allow the drugs flow through the bloodstream and kill the cancer cells. It is the last option for treating thyroid cancer. For patients with anaplastic thyroid cancer, chemoradiation (radiation given along with chemotherapeutic drugs) is the recommended treatment option for thyroid cancer. Know more about chemotherapy for thyroid here.
Injecting alcohol into cancers:
This treatment involves the injection of alcohol into the cancers which are not easily reached for surgical procedures. Imaging tests like ultrasound are used during the treatment to ensure that the alcohol is injected in the right areas. It is often recommended for small thyroid tumours which are confined to the neck area.
Targeted drug therapy:
This treatment uses medications that target specific cancer cells in the body. They aim at the signs of growth and division of the cancer cells. It is often recommended to patients with advanced thyroid cancer. The most common drugs used are:
This treatment focuses on relieving the patients from the harsh symptoms of thyroid cancer if it is in advanced stages. It is provided by specialized health care teams consisting of doctors and nurses who give medical and psychological support to the patients. It is given during and after other anticancer and curative treatments.