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Thyroid Cancer: Treatment, Procedure, Cost and Side Effects

Last Updated: Jan 24, 2022

What is the treatment?

Thyroid cancer is a kind of cancer that develops from the tissues of the thyroid gland. The thyroid gland present at the base of our neck produces hormones that regulate our heart beat, blood pressure, body weight and temperature. In this, the cells of the thyroid gland grow abnormally and become cancerous with the possibility of spreading to other parts of the body. It is known to occur more in women than in men. Thyroid cancer is be treated by removing the entire thyroid. If thyroid cancer is diagnosed well in time or is small in size, it can be cured by just removing a portion of the thyroid (one lobe). Radioactive iodine treatment is often used to remove microscopic areas of thyroid cancer that are not removed during surgery. Injecting alcohol into thyroid cancers is another way of destroying them. It is mainly used to destroy the remaining thyroid cancers that could not be removed during the surgery.

What is the first stage of Thyroid Cancer?

The first stage of Thyroid Cancer is also known by a name of the small tumour. This is because the lymph nodes at this stage are not even touched by the infection. The spread of cancer is at a very small rate. In some cases, cancer at this stage does not even spread out of the thyroid gland. It can be detected and cured at this stage.

Summary: The first stage of Thyroid Cancer is also known as a small tumour as the lymph nodes at this stage are not even touched by the infection.

How long can you live with Stage 4 Thyroid Cancer?

Stage 4 Thyroid Cancer or Anaplastic cancer is one of the most serious stages of Thyroid Cancer. It is the last stage and the success rate of the treatment is quite slim. This is because cancer has already spread on your thyroid hormone and started to mutate its surrounding bones and organs. The life expectancy at this stage is less or equal to 5 years with constant treatment.

Summary: Stage 4 Thyroid Cancer is one of the most serious stages of Thyroid Cancer. The life expectancy at this stage is less or equal to 5 years if a person has a constant course of treatment.

What happens if Thyroid Cancer is left untreated?

Any form of cancer that is not taken care of can be life-threatening. In the case of Thyroid Cancer, cancer will spread in four stages. The last stage will be associated with the lungs and bones. The cancer cells will metastasize leading to serious illness and death.

Summary: Any form of cancer that is not taken care of can be life-threatening. In the case of Thyroid Cancer, it can cause a life-threatening situation if not treated on time.

How quickly does Thyroid Cancer spread?

Thyroid Cancer comes under the category of slow-growing cancers. This means its spread inside your body is quite slow as compared to other forms of cancer. It generally takes 10-20 years to reach a detectable stage. One may begin to experience surface symptoms associated with the disease.

Summary: Thyroid Cancer comes under the category of slow-growing cancers. It generally takes 10-20 years to reach a detectable stage.

Can you live a normal life after Thyroid Cancer?

In case a person is completely free from any traces of cancer alongside a successful treatment, then a person can have a normal life expectancy. Other cases may need extensive care as cancer can grow within 5-10 years if the treatment is not sufficient to eliminate the cancer cells completely. However, the normal lifespan also depends on other factors like the stage, detection time, course of treatment, individual immunity, etc.

Summary: If a person is completely free from any traces of cancer alongside a successful treatment, then a person can have a normal life expectancy.
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How is the treatment done?

An incision is made at the base of one’s neck to get access to the thyroid cancer in order to remove it. Large doses of a form of iodine, that is radioactive, are used in radioactive iodine treatment. It is generally used to remove small thyroid cancers that are not removed during surgery due to any reason. It is also used to remove thyroid cancer that spreads to other regions of the body or recurs after the treatment. Radioactive iodine treatment is taken as a liquid or capsule that is supposed to be swallowed by the patient. Ablation using alcohol involves the usage of imaging like ultrasound to ascertain the exact position of the abnormal cells and then, injecting alcohol exactly into the thyroid cancers.

Who is eligible for the treatment? (When is the treatment done?)

If you feel constant pain in your throat and neck or experience difficulty in swallowing, you must get it checked by a doctor. The biggest symptom is the existence of a lump in your neck area that can be felt through your skin. You may also experience hoarseness in your voice and swelling of lymph nodes. One must never take all these signs lightly and must get a thorough examination done.

Who is not eligible for the treatment?

Problems in the thyroid can be caused by other issues in the body as well. If you do not have thyroid cancer, you are not eligible to seek treatment for it.

Are there any side effects?

Side effects may include nausea and fatigue. One may also go through temporary or permanent hoarseness in voice. Sense of smell and taste may change. Proper and regular follow up with the doctor is recommended to keep all these in check.

What are the post-treatment guidelines?

Radioactive treatment can be harsh for your body. You may be advised to make minimum physical contact with other people to protect them from the harmful radiations. There is nothing to be concerned about if you follow the instructions provided by the doctor.

How long does it take to recover?

One may be able to walk and do other routine activities in a day or two. However, more vigorous activities should resume only after 1-2 weeks after you are well rested.

What is the price of the treatment in India?

Thyroid surgery in India may cost between ₹900000 to ₹1200000.

Are the results of the treatment permanent?

No treatment of cancer is permanent. One is still at the risk of facing this disease again in his/ her life. You must always look after yourselves even after the surgery is done. Eat a healthy diet full of fruits and vegetables, get enough sleep and keep your body active by exercising regularly. These are some simple ways in which you can protect yourself.

What are the alternatives to the treatment?

Consumption of seafood, citrus fruits and coconut oil is known to cure thyroid nodules. It is wise to treat the nodules naturally before they turn into anything harmful.

Conclusion: Thyroid Cancer can be described as a mutation in general cells of the thyroid gland is cancerous ones. The root cause of this form of cancer is still under the shade. It is slow-growing cancer that can take 10-20 years to show its visible effects on an individual. There are many successful treatment plans to deal with this medical condition, however, the success rate can be different in each patient.

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Written ByDr. Neeraj Garg MBBS Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery,MD - Medicine,DM - EndocrinologyEndocrinology
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