Thyroid Cancer Treatment

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Thyroid Cancer Treatment

Thyroid cancer treatment is available for cancer of the thyroid, where approximately 44,000 new cases of thyroid cancer are expected to be diagnosed in 2010. A butterfly shaped gland located in the front part of the neck, the thyroid is responsible for making hormones necessary for regulating the body’s metabolism, weight, temperature, blood pressure and how the body uses calcium.

Thyroid Cancer Treatment Options

Thyroid cancer treatment depends largely on how fast it grows and the type -- papillary, follicular, medullary or anaplastic -- but usually includes one or more of the following:

Surgery for Thyroid Cancer Treatment
The usual first course of therapy for thyroid cancer is surgery to eliminate the tumor meaning all or part of the thyroid gland may be removed. There are several types of thryroidectomies, the surgery that removes the thyroid gland, which can be performed: a total thyroidectomy is where the entire thyroid gland is removed, a near-total thryoidectomy is where nearly all of the gland is removed, and a subtotal thyroidectomy, is where most of the gland is removed.
Another procedure called a lobectomy may be performed if the thyroid cancer is small and does not appear that it has spread yet. In this surgery, a part of the thyroid gland is left remaining so that there is no need to take thyroid hormone replacement supplements after surgery. During each of these surgeries, surrounding lymph nodes are usually removed to determine if the cancer has spread to other nearby organs.
Radioactive Iodine Thyroid Cancer Treatment
Since the thyroid gland takes and uses the iodine that is produced in blood to help regulate the body’s metabolism, a treatment that uses a form of radioactive iodine (RAI) can be ingested into the body, which helps to kill the cancer cells as well as the thyroid gland itself. Radioactive iodine treatment is typically used after surgery.
Thyroid Hormone Therapy Thyroid Cancer Treatment
After surgery to remove all or part of the thyroid gland, the body can no longer produce the hormones the thyroid is responsible for making, so thyroid replacement pills need to be taken. These pills also may prevent some forms of thyroid cancer from recurring.
External Beam Radiation Therapy Thyroid Cancer Treatment
Through the use of high energy rays, external beam radiation is used to treat thyroid cancers that can not be treated with or do not respond to radioactive iodine treatment. It also can be used to treat pain associated with cancers that have spread beyond the thyroid.
Chemotherapy Thyroid Cancer Treatment
This type of therapy is not used very often for the treatment of thyroid cancer and is typically reserved for advanced thyroid cancer that no longer responds to other treatments. However, chemotherapy is used to treat some anaplastic thyroid cancers.

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