Thyroid cancer develops in the cells of the thyroid, a butterfly-shaped gland found just below your Adam’s apple at the base of your neck. Hormones produced by your thyroid control your heart rate, blood pressure, body temperature, and weight. Thyroid cancer may not show any signs or symptoms at first. However, when it expands, it may cause neck discomfort and swelling.
Is Every Lump in the Thyroid Called Cancer?
Thyroid nodules are lumps or bumps in the thyroid gland. Most thyroid nodules are benign, but around two or three out of every twenty are malignant. Thyroid nodules may produce too much thyroid hormone, resulting in hyperthyroidism. Thyroid nodules that generate too much thyroid hormone nearly usually turn out to be harmless.
Early on in the course of thyroid cancer, there are usually no indications or symptoms. However, thyroid cancer may lead to the following symptoms as it progresses:
- A lump (nodule) on your neck that may be felt through the skin
- Changes in your voice, such as hoarseness
- Swallowing problems
- Neck and throat discomfort
- Swollen lymph nodes in your neck
Thyroid cancer is diagnosed using the following tests and procedures:
Ultrasound is a technique that employs sound waves to make pictures of bodily components. During this test, you will not be exposed to any radiation.
This test can tell you if a thyroid nodule is solid or fluid-filled. (Cancer is more probable in solid nodules.) It may also be used to evaluate the number and size of thyroid nodules and if any adjacent lymph nodes are enlarging due to the spread of thyroid cancer.
This technique may guide a biopsy needle into a thyroid nodule that is too tiny to feel to get a sample. Most physicians prefer ultrasonography to guide the needle even when the nodule is big enough to feel.
2. Fine Needle Aspiration Cytology
Fine Needle Aspiration Cytology (FNAC) is a medical diagnostic method for tumours, tissues, and lumps. Thin hollow needles of around 23-25 gauge are often used to collect samples. These samples are then examined under a microscope. It’s usually done on thyroid nodules that are suspected of being abnormal.
An antiseptic solution is used to clean the skin area where a sample will be obtained in this technique. A topical anaesthetic is then used to desensitise the muscle, fat layer, and skin. Anesthesia may not be necessary, particularly when dealing with external masses. A tiny thin needle is placed into the lump using palpation or x-rays. It is possible to utilise a variety of needles.
3. Frozen Section Biopsy
A frozen section examination is a biopsy that enables a surgeon to quickly diagnose a suspicious tumour while doing surgery. Cryosection is the technical term for this operation.
While the patient is still under general anaesthetic, the surgeon diagnoses the frozen section. While this treatment lengthens the operation, it gives your surgeon a preliminary determination of whether a suspected growth is benign or cancerous.
If the condition is benign, surgery may be done in a more restricted or cautious manner. If the tissue is malignant, other tissues (e.g., omentum, lymph nodes) should be removed to evaluate the extent of the malignancy, which provides crucial information for postoperative therapy choices.
Treatment choices for thyroid cancer are determined by the kind and stage of the tumour and your general health and preferences.
Thyroid cancer is almost always treated with surgery to remove the thyroid. The kind of thyroid cancer, the size of the tumour, whether cancer has progressed beyond the thyroid, and the findings of an ultrasound inspection of the whole thyroid gland will all influence the surgery your doctor recommends.
Thyroid cancer is treated with the following procedures:
- Removing all or most of the thyroid (thyroidectomy): A complete thyroidectomy (removal of all thyroid tissue) or a partial thyroidectomy (removal of most thyroid tissue) are two options for removing the thyroid gland (near-total thyroidectomy). To limit the danger of harm to the parathyroid glands, which help control calcium levels in your blood, the surgeon generally leaves tiny rims of thyroid tissue surrounding them.
- Removing a portion of the thyroid (thyroid lobectomy): The surgeon removes half of the thyroid during a thyroid lobectomy. If you have slow-growing thyroid cancer in one section of the thyroid and no worrisome nodules in other parts of the thyroid, it may be advised.
- Removing lymph nodes in the neck (lymph node dissection): The surgeon may also remove neighbouring lymph nodes in your neck while removing your thyroid. These may be examined for cancer indicators.
Thyroid surgery has the potential to cause bleeding and infection. In addition, during surgery, your parathyroid glands may be damaged, resulting in low calcium levels in your body.
There’s also a chance that the nerves that control your vocal cords won’t operate properly after surgery, resulting in vocal cord paralysis, hoarseness, voice alterations, or breathing difficulties. Nerve issues may be improved or reversed with treatment. Further, the patients usually recover in 4 to 6 weeks after surgery.
2. Radioactive Iodine Therapy
Large dosages of a radioactive type of iodine are used in radioactive iodine therapy.
After a thyroidectomy, radioactive iodine therapy is often used to eliminate any remaining healthy thyroid tissue and tiny patches of thyroid cancer that were not removed during surgery. In addition, thyroid cancer that recurs after therapy or spreads to other parts of the body may also be treated with radioactive iodine.
The radioactive iodine therapy is taken as a pill or a liquid. Because the radioactive iodine is largely absorbed by thyroid cells and thyroid cancer cells, there is little danger of injury to other cells in your body.
3. Thyroid supplement
You may take the thyroid hormone drug levothyroxine (Levoxyl, Synthroid, and others) for the rest of your life if you have a thyroidectomy.
There are two advantages to using this medication: It replaces the hormone that your thyroid typically produces and inhibits the pituitary gland’s synthesis of thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH). On the other hand, high TSH levels might potentially promote the growth of any residual cancer cells.
Receiving a cancer diagnosis, regardless of the kind, is frightening. Fortunately, the majority of thyroid tumours respond favourably to therapy. Your doctor may talk to you about the best treatment options for your specific kind of thyroid cancer.
You may need to take synthetic thyroid hormones for the rest of your life after therapy. These hormones help the body work properly.