Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Thyroid Cancer Information

Found this Monday night and thought I would post it here just in case someone who needs to see it stumbles across it. Hmmmm, I have my own theories. And just where IS all the radiation coming from?

What's the Fastest Growing Cancer Diagnosis in U.S.?

A full-page ad in a recent Time magazine, paid for by the Light of Light Foundation, recommends that you ask your doctor to check your neck for thyroid nodules — abnormal growths that form a lump in the thyroid gland. In fact, thyroid nodules have become the most common endocrine diagnosis in the United States, with thyroid cancer now being the fastest growing cancer diagnosis in the country.

Few thyroid nodules
produce any symptoms, so people will usually only find them by chance. Far more often, they will be detected by your doctor during a routine physical exam or by an imaging study (ultrasound, computed tomography, or magnetic resonance scan) that is looking at some other condition in the head or neck.

The likelihood of a thyroid nodule being cancerous is greater in those who are less than 20 years old or who are older than 70. The risk of this cancer is also higher in individuals who had undergone radiation of the head and neck, once a common treatment for acne.

How worried should you be if a nodule is found on your thyroid? Not very. About 90 percent to 95 percent of thyroid nodules are not cancerous. Also reassuring: Most common types of thyroid cancer are curable and rarely life-threatening. Nonetheless, nodules require further evaluation to determine whether cancer is present.

If a nodule is easily felt, the physician can usually evaluate it in the office under a local anesthetic by using a thin needle to perform an aspiration biopsy. A small needle is inserted into the nodule several times, each time in a different place, so that the cells withdrawn will be a representative sampling. For nodules that are difficult to feel, the biopsy is done using real-time ultrasound images to guide the needle into the lump. A pathologist then examines these cells under a microscope for cancer.

biopsy of a thyroid nodule may be interpreted as being either benign, malignant, or indeterminate (suspicious). For benign nodules, only an occasional follow-up exam is required. Malignant nodules, however, are most often treated by removing nearly all of the thyroid gland. Removing the thyroid condemns the patient to a lifetime of taking thyroid hormone pills. The major risks of this surgery are the inadvertent removal of the parathyroid glands, which are closely associated with the thyroid, and damage to the laryngeal nerve.

For nodules considered suspicious, thyroid hormone pills may be administered in an attempt to suppress progression of possible cancer; more often, the suspicious nodules are removed surgically.

While some nodules can be felt easily, I have learned that many doctors are not adept at finding thyroid nodules that are located low down in the gland or buried deep in the thyroid tissue. Also, keep in mind that the utility of any fine-needle aspiration depends on the experience of the doctor who carries out the procedure and of the pathologist who examines the cells.


Thykidzmom said...

Thanks for posting this!

Karen M said...

My dad died of Thyroid cancer in Oct 1999. His was intertwined around his vocal cords and surgery was not an option. He had a iodine chemotherapy pill treatment and radiation. From original diagnosis to death was almost 2 years.