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What is Thyroid Cancer?
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Thyroid Cancer

Thyroid Cancer Treatment

Thyroid cells are the only cells in our bodies that can absorb iodine. So, treatment of thyroid cancer begins with removal of the cancer cells. A surgeon removes a part of the thyroid or the entire thyroid. Often, this can be done in the same operation that is required for the biopsy. The surgeon also determines if the lymph nodes should also be extracted. If the diagnosis reveals that the patient suffers from anaplastic thyroid cancer, then the surgeon needs to make a decision about the tracheostomy as well.

Then radioactive iodine is given to check if cancerous thyroid cells are still prevalent in the system. Thyroid cells that are cancerous absorb the radioactive iodine which is actually quite poisonous for them. Other cells cannot absorb the toxic iodine and are not affected by the radioactive cells. However, the cancerous thyroid cells absorb and concentrate the poison within themselves and this radioactivity actually helps destroy them. Radioactive iodine treatment has virtually no side-effects like other types of chemotherapy like sickness, loss of hair, nausea, diarrhea, etc.

The patient has to consume a pill which contains the requisite dosage of radioactive iodine. After they return home, they must avoid coming in close contact with other people in order to avoid exposing them to the radioactive elements. A couple of weeks after that, the patient begins the treatment with the thyroid hormone pills. People without a thyroid require thyroid hormones, so till they are alive they need to have one such pill every day which provides the requisite thyroid hormones in their system.

Synthroid, Armour Thyroid, and Levoxyl are the types of drugs that provide such hormones in patients who have been diagnosed and treated with thyroid cancer. Such people need to get blood tests done annually or bi-annually by their endocrinologists. Such tests check if the thyroid hormones are at the correct levels in the system. These tests also see if the tumor or cancer cells are not growing back again.

Medullary thyroid cancer patients usually don't require radioactive iodine treatment since medullary cancers cells cannot absorb iodine. Other types of thyroid cancer like small papillary types can normally be cured with surgery so they don't usually require Radioactive iodine treatment. While radioactive iodine therapy is quite safe, its usage should be determined according to cancer type, patient, and the doctor themselves.

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