The thyroid gland, which is housed just below your voice box, derives its name from the Greek word for shield due to his shape. A healthy thyroid is just a little bigger than a quarter and cannot be felt under the skin. It has two lobes. A swollen lobe may just feel like a lump in your throat. A swollen lobe is called a goiter that is normally caused due to iodine deficiency. There are, however, other abnormal conditions of thyroid, out of which, thyroid cancer is the most serious.
Whereas no one can tell for sure what causes thyroid cancer, treatment for the same and thyroid medications take a long time to produce results.
Thyroid treatment involves a series of procedures that can start only after some visible symptoms surface because early thyroid cancer does not show any significant signs.
Any suggestive signs of thyroid cancer would first require a physical examination of any swelling in the lymph nodes in the neck along with blood tests for any abnormal levels in thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH). In case medullary thyroid cancer is suggested, the physician may go for checking high levels of calcium in the blood or the RET gene. Other diagnostic procedures may involve an ultrasonography, a radionuclide scanning, or a biopsy. Biopsy is a procedure whereby a sample tissue is examined under a microscope to determine if the cells have become malignant (cancerous).
Once a positive diagnosis is established, the patient has the option to go for natural thyroid medications or settle for the routine allopathic procedures.
Surgery is the most common treatment for thyroid cancer, which could mean removal of the entire thyroid (Total thyroidectomy) or the lobe with the cancerous nodule (lobectomy). Sometimes an operation is required to check for cancer that may have spread. In cases where cancer has indeed spread, an I-131 therapy or external radiation is necessary for its treatment. Practically all patients who have had their thyroid gland removed require thyroid hormone pills to substitute the natural hormone.
Radioactive iodine therapy is another method to destroy thyroid cancer cells anywhere in the body. In cases where low dosage of radioactive iodine (I-131) is required the patient is not hospitalized but treated as an outpatient. However, this therapy does not work in cases of medullary thyroid cancer or anaplastic plastic cancer.
Patients in advanced stage of thyroid cancer do not respond to radioactive iodine therapy and require a local therapy known as external radioactive therapy. This involves directing high-energy X-Rays to the affected part. This process can mean daily visits to the hospital for several weeks.
There are also drugs that can kill cancerous cells. This is a systemic therapy known as chemotherapy because the drugs enter the bloodstream and travel throughout the body.
Thyroid medications require careful follow up and management. Chemotherapy involves drugs that can affect any part of the body and destroy healthy cells along with the cancerous cells. This results in weakening of your Immune System, which in turn can expose you to further infections. They can also cause fatigue, nausea and vomiting, mouth sores, pain, Hair Loss, and anemia. If at all you are allowed to work, it may necessitate a major change in your work schedule.
There are alternative thyroid treatments available which can prove to be of great help in thyroid treatment as they are devoid of any side effects and require minimal management.
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