No one wants to hear from her doctor that the cause of her symptoms is thyroid cancer, a cancer that an estimated 48,020 people were diagnosed with in 2011, according to the National Cancer Institute. Women are three times more likely to have this type of cancer, noted Ceders-Sinai.
Several types of thyroid cancer exist, which may cause symptoms such as an enlargement of the thyroid gland, voice changes, difficulty swallowing and neck-swelling. The treatment that the patient receives depends on the type of thyroid cancer she has, as well as other factors, such as her age, the size of the nodule, and if the cancer has spread to other parts of her body.
The National Cancer Institute noted that most patients with thyroid cancer undergo surgery. Depending on the individual case, the patient may have part of her thyroid removed or all of her thyroid removed.
A total removal is called a thyroidectomy, which can be used with all the types of thyroid cancer. The surgeon makes an incision in the patient’s neck to gain access to the thyroid gland. If the cancer has spread to the lymph nodes, the surgeon may also remove the lymph nodes.
Some patients may undergo a lobectomy, in which the surgeon removes one lobe of the thyroid gland and the isthmus. This type of surgery is used to treat papillary thyroid cancer and follicular thyroid cancer.
In cases in which the parathyroid gland is surgically removed, patients may take calcium and vitamin D supplements for the rest of their lives, according to the National Cancer Institute. Side effects may occur with this treatment, including vocal cord paralysis and a risk of infection or bleeding.
Radioactive Iodine Therapy
After undergoing surgery, patients with thyroid cancer may receive radioactive iodine treatment. This type of thyroid cancer treatment may be used in cases of follicular thyroid cancer, papillary thyroid cancer, cancer that spreads to other areas of the body or recurrent thyroid cancer.
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