Thyroid cancer is the ninth most common cause of cancer worldwide in 2020 with 586,202 cases according to World Cancer Research Fund International.
Detection of thyroid cancer itself is a matter of grave concern. However, with the advancement of technologies both in detection and treatment, the survival rates are also increasing.
Let me introduce you, one of our patients Christy from Cape Town, South Africa.
Christy is a 38-year-old working woman recently married. Christy’s husband is very caring and supportive. Christy’s dream is to have a world tour with her husband.
Three years back, Christy felt she had lost her taste bud and found difficulty in swallowing the food. She was also having neck pain. She visited the doctor for a check-up with her husband.
The doctor examined Christy’s throat and suggested she do a blood test to check thyroid functioning and ultrasound. The next day, the doctor called Christy to come and meet, the doctor informed Christy about the presence of a solid nodule in her thyroid and suggested doing a CT scan. Christy did the CT scan and thyroid cancer was confirmed. The doctor suggested she consult an ENT oncologist.
After listening to the news of cancer Christy and her husband Dave both were in shock. Dave supported Christy and told her we would get the best treatment.
Dave, while researching for the best treatment for thyroid cancer, came across the MedicoExperts website and left his inquiry for her wife. The MedicoExperts team got in touch with Dave and explained to him about the Tumor Board approach for thyroid cancer treatment and also arranged online video consultation with the ENT oncologist doctor. During the Video consultation, Doctors explained the treatment protocol and cleared all the doubts regarding the treatment.
Dave and Christy, after understanding all the aspects of treatment, decided to come to India for treatment.
After 15 Days, Christy and Dave both came to India and on the same day, Christy got admitted to the hospital.
An evaluation test was performed to check the current condition of thyroid cancer. The report suggested it’s slow-growing thyroid cancer in one part of the thyroid and no suspicious nodules in other areas of the thyroid.
So the surgical oncologist decided to do a thyroid lobectomy in which the surgeon removes half of the thyroid. After the surgery radiation therapy was given.
A re-evaluation test was performed to check the outcome of the treatment and no cancer was detected.
Both Christy and Dave were very happy and thanked the doctors and MedicoExperts team.
This can be your story as well to win the battle against thyroid cancer. What you need is the right guidance, right treatment at the right time from the experts.
Before we start the discussion on different treatment options for thyroid cancer, let’s understand what thyroid cancer is.
Thyroid cancer occurs in thyroid cells, a butterfly-shaped gland at the base of the neck, right under Adam’s apple. Your thyroid is a hormone that regulates your heart rate, blood pressure, body temperature, and weight.
Thyroid cancer may not cause symptoms when it starts. However, as it grows, it may cause pain and swelling in the neck.
There are different kinds of thyroid cancer. Some of them develop very slowly and some of them can be very aggressive. Most people with thyroid cancer can be treated.
What are the different types of thyroid cancer?
Types of thyroid carcinoma include:
Papillary thyroid cancer
Papillary thyroid cancer is a differentiated form of thyroid cancer. It’s the most common type. This is most common among women of childbearing age. It is less dangerous than other types of cancer. It spreads more slowly, and it’s quite treatable.
Medullary thyroid cancer
Another differentiated form of thyroid cancer is medullary cancer of the thyroid.
Medullary thyroid cancer develops in non-thyroid cells located in the thyroid gland. The treatment is different from other forms of thyroid cancer.
Follicular thyroid cancer
Follicular thyroid cancer is the type of thyroid cancer that has the greatest potential to spread and occur again.
Anaplastic thyroid cancer
Anaplastic thyroid cancer is the most aggressively diagnosed form of thyroid cancer. This is rare and difficult to deal with.
This is a rare form of thyroid cancer. It starts in the immune cells that are in the thyroid gland.
The tumor is 2 cm or less, and has not grown out of the thyroid. It did not spread to surrounding lymph nodes or remote locations.
The diameter of the primary tumor lies between 2 and 4 cm. There are no cancer cells in the regional lymph nodes or distant places in the body.
The primary tumor has a diameter greater than 4 cm or started to grow outside the thyroid gland. Cancer has not been detected in lymph nodes or other areas of the body.
The primary tumor is larger than 4 cm, or has grown outside the thyroid, but has not spread to adjacent lymph nodes or beyond (differentiated cancers only).
The tumor may be of any size or develop outside the thyroid, and has spread to the lymph nodes in the neck, but no further.
This is the most advanced stage of thyroid cancer, is subdivided according to where cancer spread:
At this stage, cancers developed beyond the thyroid gland and may have spread to neighboring tissues, or they may have spread to the lymph nodes of the neck and upper chest, but not to remote sites.
The primary tumor developed in the spinal column or in the adjacent large blood vessels. In this stage of thyroid cancer, it may or may not have spread to the lymph nodes, but did not reach remote sites.
Thyroid cancer cells metastasized or propagated to remote sites.
Let’s now understand the signs and symptoms of Thyroid cancer.
Thyroid cancer generally does not cause any signs or symptoms at the beginning of the disease. As thyroid cancer develops, it has the potential to cause:
- A lump (nodule) that may be felt across the skin of your neck.
- Changes to your tone, including growing hoarseness.
- Swallowing difficulty
- Painful neck and throat.
- Enlarged lymph nodes in the neck.
Let’s now understand the causes and risk factors of Thyroid cancer.
The following factors can raise the risk of thyroid cancer:
- Exposed to elevated levels of radiation.
- Radiotherapy of the head and neck increases the risk of thyroid cancer.
- Certain hereditary genetic syndromes.
Let’s now understand how Thyroid cancer is diagnosed.
Thyroid cancer can be diagnosed after someone goes to the doctor for symptoms, or it can be found during a regular physical examination or other tests.
Individuals who have or could have thyroid cancer will undergo one or more of these tests.
- To help identify suspected areas that could be cancer.
- See how far cancer’s spread.
- To aid in determining whether the treatment is working.
Ultrasound uses sound waves for images of parts of your body. No radiation exposure takes place during this test.
This test will determine if a thyroid node is solid or liquid-filled. It also checks the number and size of thyroid glands and helps determine whether nearby lymph nodes have swollen because thyroid cancer has spread.
For thyroid nodules that are too small to feel, this test may be used to guide a biopsy needle into the nodule to obtain a sample.
Radioactive iodine scans can help determine whether a person with a bump in the neck could develop thyroid cancer. They are also often used in people who have previously been diagnosed with distinguished thyroid cancer to help demonstrate whether it has spread.
If you have been identified with thyroid cancer (particularly follicular thyroid cancer), a chest X-ray may be performed to see if cancer has spread to your lungs.
Computed tomography is an X-ray test that makes it possible to make detailed cross-sectional images of your body. It may help determine the size and location of thyroid cancers and whether they have spread to nearby regions. A computed tomography scan can also be used to search for propagation in distant organs such as the lungs.
MRI studies use magnets rather than radiation to create detailed images of your sectioned body. MRI can be used to search for thyroid cancer or cancer that has spread to parts near or far from the body. But ultrasound is generally the first option to look at the thyroid. MR may provide highly detailed images of soft tissues such as the thyroid gland. MRIs are also very useful in the examination of the brain and spinal cord.
A PET scan can be extremely useful if your thyroid cancer does not absorb radioactive iodine. When this happens, PET Scan may be able to tell if cancer has spread.
The real diagnosis of thyroid cancer is done with a biopsy, in which the cells of the suspect area are removed and examined in the laboratory.
If your doctor thinks a biopsy is necessary, the easiest way to find out if a thyroid tumor is cancerous is with a fine thyroid needle.
Thyroid tumors may sometimes affect the vocal cords. If you are going to undergo surgery to treat thyroid cancer, laryngoscopy will probably be performed first to see if the vocal cords are moving normally.
Let’s now understand the treatment options for thyroid cancer.
Treatment for thyroid cancer depends on your type stage, general health status, and preferences.
The majority of people with thyroid cancer undergo surgery to remove the thyroid.
What do doctors recommend?
Your doctor’s recommendation depends on the types of thyroid cancer, the size of cancer if it has expanded beyond the thyroid gland.
Operations used for the treatment of thyroid cancer include:
Removing all or most of the thyroid (thyroidectomy).
procedure to remove the thyroid gland would involve removing all thyroid tissue (total thyroidectomy)
The doctor’s advice is based on the size and progress of the tumor.
Removal of part of the thyroid gland (thyroid lobectomy). When a thyroid lobectomy is performed, the surgeon removes half of the thyroid. It may be advisable if you have slow-growing thyroid cancer in the thyroid gland and no suspicious nodules in other areas of the thyroid.
After thyroidectomy, you can take the thyroid hormone levothyroxine for life.
Hormone therapy benefits
It provides the missing hormone that your thyroid would normally produce, and it removes the production of thyroid hormone stimulant (TSH) from your pituitary gland.
Radioactive iodine treatment uses high levels of radioactive iodine.
Radioiodine therapy can also be used to treat thyroid cancer that reappears after treatment or spreads to other parts of the body.
The radioactive iodine treatment comes in the form of a capsule or fluid that you swallow.
Radioactive iodine is absorbed mostly by thyroid cells and thyroid cancer cells, so there is a low risk of harming other cells in your body.
Side effects may include:
- Dryness in mouth
- oral pain
- inflammatory eyes
- change in the sense of taste or odor.
Radiotherapy may also be administered externally using a machine that targets high-energy beams, such as X-rays and protons, at specific points in your body (external radiotherapy). During processing, you stand still on a table while a machine moves around you.
When its recommended
External radiotherapy may be recommended if surgery is not an option and your cancer continues to develop after radiation iodine therapy.
Chemo is a medicine that uses chemicals to kill cancer cells. Chemicals move through your body, killing fast-growing cells, including cancerous cells.
When Chemo is used?
Chemotherapy is not commonly used to treat thyroid cancer but is sometimes recommended for individuals with anaplastic thyroid cancer. Chemotherapy can be used in combination with radiotherapy.
Targeted medication treatments focus on certain abnormalities in cancer cells. By blocking these abnormalities, targeted medication treatments can cause the death of cancer cells.
Targeted drug therapy benefits
Targeted medication therapy for thyroid cancer targets signals that tell cancer cells to develop and split. It is usually used to treat advanced thyroid cancer.
Alcoholic ablation involves injecting alcohol into small thyroid cancers using imaging such as ultrasound to ensure the precise placement of the injection.
It causes thyroid cancers to shrink. Alcohol ablation could be an option if your cancer is quite small and surgery is not an option. It is also sometimes used to treat cancer that reappears in the lymph nodes after surgical intervention.
Typically, the treatment of thyroid cancer depends on the location, extent of spread and stage of cancer. The different treatment approach for treating thyroid cancer are:
Typically, doctors advise surgery for thyroid cancer treatment. Usually, after the surgery your doctor may suggest hormone replacement therapy.
Surgery is often advisable for treating stage 2 thyroid cancer. However sometimes your doctor may suggest you radiotherapy or chemotherapy to remove cancer cells permanently.
The treatment for stage 3 thyroid cancer is similar to the treatment of stage 2 thyroid cancer. Your doctor will surgically remove the cancer and the adjacent lymph nodes. After the surgery your doctor may advise you on external radiation therapy and chemoradiation therapy to eradicate cancer completely.
For treating stage 4 cancer your doctor may suggest external beam therapy, followed by radioactive iodine therapy and hormone replacement therapy.
Sometimes your doctor may suggest some medicine to ease your discomfort caused by the cancer.
Once you get diagnosed with cancer the first thing that comes to your mind is about where you should get treated. While it is a difficult decision here are a few tips that can help you choose the best country for thyroid cancer treatment:
- Choose a country that has world-class health-care facilities with the latest devices for cancer treatment.
- Check for the survival ratios for people who underwent thyroid cancer treatment in the chosen country
- Confirm the success rate of thyroid cancer treatment in the country
- Confirm the affordability of the treatment cost of stay in that country
In addition to checking on the affordability and availability of latest treatment, you must also consider other factors including:
- Easy availability of connecting flights,
- Safe and easy availability of local transportation, and
- Safety of the selected country.
The world-class treatment with advanced technology attracts many to the western nations but, the cost of thyroid cancer treatment in those countries are usually high.
However, in contrast to western nations, the cost of thyroid cancer treatment in India is almost half.
Along with offering affordable treatment the hospitals in India also offer world-class facilities for you, with high success and survival ratios for thyroid cancer treatment.
Selecting a hospital for thyroid cancer treatment is essential because a good hospital provides you with world class facilities for cancer treatment.
In addition to providing world-class facilities you must also ensure that the hospital you have chosen offers a multidisciplinary approach where you get adequate care from specialists surgeons, medical oncologists, radiation oncologists, and well-trained nurses who work together to provide the best treatment for you.
Moreover, you must ensure that the chosen hospital has a dedicated unit for cancer treatment with a well-trained post-care team.
Although selecting an oncologist for your thyroid cancer treatment is an arduous task, yet it is one of the major decisions you make for your cancer treatment.
An experienced and well-trained doctor, provides you with the necessary treatment to reverse or manage the symptoms of cancer. Before selecting an oncologist for your thyroid cancer treatment you must ensure:
- The doctor has certification from the tumor board
- Enquire if your doctor has his team of specialists for treating cancer which includes specialist surgeons, medical oncologists and radiation oncologists
- The experience and expertise of your doctor in treating thyroid cancer
The cost of thyroid cancer surgery in India can vary from USD $3,300 to $5,500 (245475 – 409125 INR).
The five-year survival rate indicates the percentage of individuals living at least five years after the discovery of cancer. The percentage stands for how much out of 100. Overall, patients with thyroid cancer have a five-year survival rate of 98%. However, survival rates are based on a wide range of factors, including the specific type of thyroid cancer and the stage of the disease.
The 5-year survival rate for thyroid cancer depends upon the stage of cancer.
- The survival rate of Stage 1 Thyroid Cancer – 100%
- The survival rate of Stage 2 Thyroid Cancer – 99%
- The survival rate of Stage 3 Thyroid Cancer – 99%
- The survival rate of Stage 4 Thyroid Cancer – 76%
Frequently Asked Questions and patient concerns:
1. What if I lose my voice while doing the surgery?
You won’t lose your voice. Hoarseness or changes will occur after the procedure that can be recovered within 6 months. If it goes beyond six months, voice therapy could be performed. The potential for permanent nerve damage is only about 1%.
2. What to expect after thyroid surgery?
The majority of people who have thyroid surgery will feel better in 1–2 weeks, but some people may take longer.
You will most likely spend one or two nights in the hospital after thyroid surgery to recover. Stitches, adhesive strips, or small clips will be used to close your neck wound.
Your nursing team will discuss how to care for your surgical wound site once you return home to avoid infection. Blood tests may be ordered by the surgeon to monitor your recovery.
You will also feel
- Sore neck: You will most likely experience some discomfort or pain where the cut was made. To help you cope, you’ll be given painkillers.
- Hoarse voice: Thyroid surgery can sometimes affect the nerves that control the voice box, causing your voice to sound hoarse or weak. This is usually only temporary and gets better over time.
- Eating and drinking: Most people start eating and drinking within a few hours after the operation.
- Painful swallowing: You will find it painful to swallow for a few days.
3. Will I need to follow a special diet after thyroid surgery?
After a thyroidectomy or thyroid lobectomy, most people don’t need to follow a special diet. The morning after your surgery, you should be able to eat and drink normally, though you may prefer softer foods at first. We’ll tell you whether or not you need to restrict your eating and drinking, and for how long.
MedicoExperts is a Global virtual hospital which is established to offer quality healthcare services at affordable pricing without compromising the success rates of the treatment. MedicoExperts is having a network of highly experienced super specialist doctors and well equipped hospitals across the globe and offering second opinion through online video consultation and surgical interventions through its empanelled super specialist doctors at its network hospitals in 17 countries from 3 continents.
By the virtue of its approach and model, MedicoExperts is successfully achieve to deliver
- Latest and most advanced treatments with success rates of international benchmarks.
- Multiple cost options depending upon the hospital facilities, with the same doctor.
- Treatment option in multiple cities/state/countries.
- Trust and peace of mind.
Most suitable for patients who are looking for:-
- Planned Surgeries and treatment from most experienced doctors and at multiple cost options as per hospital facilities with best possible outcomes.
- Second Opinion from expert doctors.
- Complex cases involving multi specialities
- International patients looking for treatment from Indian doctors