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Thyroid Cancer Treatment

Overview

Thyroid cancer originates in the thyroid gland when the cells multiply uncontrollably to form cancerous pathogens that takes a toll on the body’s immune system, thereby invading the tissues of the neck, or may spread to the surrounding lymph nodes, or sometimes even enter the bloodstream and harm the other vital organs of the body. The various types of thyroid cancer are as follows:

•    Papillary Thyroid Cancer

•    Hürthle Cell Carcinoma

•    Follicular Thyroid Carcinoma

•    Anaplastic Thyroid Carcinoma

•    Medullary Thyroid Cancer (MTC)

•    Sarcoma

•    Lymphoma

Thyroid cancer is a condition which on an average has excellent cure rates. In 5 percent of patients, cancer becomes refractory to the current therapies and hence spreads rampantly in the body, which may pose to be lethal.

Risk Factors & Symptoms

Certain factors which have been associated with elevating odds of thyroid cancer are as follows:

•    Radiation: Patients who neck and other surrounding areas were exposed to radiotherapy treatment have the likelihood of developing thyroid cancer in early stage.

•    Family history: Individuals whose first-degree relative diagnosed with thyroid cancer are at an elevated risk of thyroid cancer themselves.

•    Inherited genes: Genes inherited from patients with a bowel condition called FAP (familial adenomatous polyposis) are also at risk of developing thyroid cancer.

•    Weight and height: High Body Mass Index (BMI) and tall individuals are also at higher risk of developing thyroid cancer.

•    Diet low in iodine: A diet low in iodine has been linked with increased risk of Follicular and Papillary carcinoma.

•    Exposure to Environmental Toxins: Exposure to air pollution and other harmful gases present in the atmosphere has been associated with increasing the risk of developing thyroid cancer.

•    Stress: Stress has been a driving force for elevating the risk of lifestyle diseases. Stress has been linked to causing genome variations in an individual’s body.

•    Lethargic and Sedentary lifestyle: Sedentary lifestyle is another common factor that may up the risk of developing these lifestyle diseases which sometimes become cancerous. Sedentary lifestyle involves unhealthy diet regimen, procrastination and a lifestyle devoid of physical activity. 

Some of the known symptoms of thyroid cancer are as follows:

•    Lumping at the bottom or in and around the neck

•    Husky voice

•    Swallowing difficulty

•    Swollen Lymph Nodes

•    Tracheal or oesophageal compression- such as breathlessness

•    Face Redness

Diagnosis

•    Biopsy

•    Imaging Tests

•    Ultrasound

•    Chest X-rays

Treatment

Thyroid cancer is tackled with the help of various therapies and surgery. However, the treatment one undergoes depends on the extent of thyroid cancer, stage and overall health of the patient.

•    Surgery

Most types of thyroid cancers are removed surgically, some of the popular procedures performed in India are as follows:

Lobectomy– If a tumour originates in any of the lobes of the thyroid gland, then this surgery is performed for treating cancer via surgically removing the affected lobe.

Total Thyroidectomy– The objective of this surgery is to remove the thyroid gland so that cancer doesn’t relapse.

     Lymph Node Resection– When cancer becomes rampant and invades the lymph nodes, then this surgery is conducted to remove the affected lymph nodes potentially.

Open Biopsy– At times patients fail to positively respond to needle aspiration, in such cases an open biopsy is performed. The procedure involves removing the nodule and then the tissues are sent to laboratories for biopsy. 

•    Radiation– There have been few cases in the past, where tumor does not take up iodine, radiation is often considered in place of radioactive iodine. Patients are made to undergo radioactive iodine tests before the surgery to evaluate whether iodine is taken up by the thyroid gland or not.

•    Chemotherapy– When all other treatments fail to depict promising results, then chemotherapy is used which potentially shrinks cancerous pathogens.

•    Radioactive Iodine (radioiodine)– Radioiodine is administered post thyroidectomy so that remnant thyroid tissue can be demolished. The delivery of this therapy is dependent on the type and extent of the thyroid cancer and once the levels of thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) have been analysed.

•    Thyroid Hormone– Once the thyroid gland is removed, then a regular thyroid replacement becomes mandatory hence patients are made to undergo timely blood tests so that the production of thyroid hormone can be scrutinised. 

Best Hospitals and Oncologists for Thyroid Cancer in India

•    Fortis Memorial Research Institute, Gurugram- Dr Vinod Raina

•    Fortis Memorial Research Institute, Gurugram – Dr Rahul Bhargava

•    Max Smart Super Speciality Hospital, Saket – Dr Rahul Naithani

•    BLK Super Speciality Hospital, New Delhi- Dr Amit Agarwal

•    BLK Super Speciality Hospital, New Delhi- Dr Dharma Choudhary

•    Fortis Escorts Hospital, New Delhi- Dr Sanjeev Chawla (ENT Specialist)

•    Fortis Memorial Research Institute, Gurugram – Dr Atul Kumar Mittal (ENT Specialist)

•    BLK Super Speciality Hospital, New Delhi- Dr WVBS Ramalingam (ENT Specialist)

Thyroid Cancer treatment cost in India

Thyroid Cancer treatment in India is comparatively cost-effective. The cost of removing thyroid cancer surgically is approximately USD 7000-8000, and the cost of chemotherapy per cycle is USD 500. Radiation therapy amounts to close to USD 5000.

The cost of availing Thyroid Cancer treatment in India also depends on various other factors.

•    Choice of hospital

•    Preference of the oncologist

•    The grade, type and severity of thyroid cancer

•    Post-surgery expenses

Indian hospitals have garnered international acclamation for performing ground-breaking procedures with utmost meticulousness. There are many healthcare platforms in India like Medmonks, which help patients walk through the entire procedure involved in undergoing treatment in India at an economical cost and gets your appointment scheduled at the earliest with the best oncologists for various conditions. 

FAQ’s

1.    How can Thyroid Cancer be prevented?

The odds of developing thyroid cancer can be mitigated. Individuals having a family history of the disease should go for routinely check-ups. Incorporating a healthy diet which is rich in iodine, vitamins, green veggies and fruits coupled with physical activity has shown potential in lowering the risk. Also, patients should avoid undergoing unnecessary imaging and scans that require exposing the patients to radiations. Foods like Egg, Fish and dairy products help stabilise the iodine levels among patients with lower levels of iodine.

2.    What is the survival rate of patients with Thyroid Cancer?

The survival rate varies, depending on the type and extent of thyroid cancer. Individuals afflicted with papillary or follicular cancer which is restricted to the thyroid gland have a normal life expectancy with treatment. Prognosis for women is comparatively better who are below 40. However, rates of anaplastic cancer offer only a few months survival. If we look at its five-year survival scenario, then it is less than 10 percent.

3.    What are the recent developments in Thyroid Cancer research?

The latest development in thyroid cancer is that researchers have designed a point of care device that shows potential in overcoming the shortcomings of thyroid screenings and hence promises consistent and cost-effective screening for thyroid nodules.

4.    What are the stages of Thyroid Cancer?

The various stages of thyroid cancer are as follows:

T = This stage determines the size of the tumour at the time of diagnosis.

N = N stage is associated with depicting the sight and position of cancer in lymph nodes.

M = This stage determines whether cancer has spread or metastasised to other adjacent areas of the body. Thyroid cancer is at times associated with spreading locally or to distant parts of the body such as lungs and bone.

Staging for patients below or above 45, who have papillary and follicular thyroid cancers, is different.