The challenging landscape of thyroid cancer requires a comprehensive understanding of resilience and the journey ahead. For those struggling with this diagnosis, the road to recovery often involves not only medical intervention but also psychological and emotional support.
According to Dr. Sonal Sakhale, Consultant – Nuclear Medicine, HCG Cancer Centre, Nagpur, “The thyroid, a butterfly-shaped gland located at the base of the neck, plays an important role in regulating various bodily functions by producing hormones like T-3. It affects the metabolism. Despite its essential function, the thyroid is susceptible to cancer, a condition that often comes with risk factors such as genetic predisposition, alcohol consumption, radiation and more.”
Apart from this, thyroid cancer harbors misconceptions that need to be dispelled. Let’s get to the basics of thyroid cancer, dispel common myths and provide accurate information shared by Dr. Sonal.
Myth 1: Thyroid cancer is always fatal
Fact: While any cancer diagnosis can be scary, thyroid cancer has a very high survival rate. Most thyroid cancers are highly curable, and many people lead healthy, normal lives after treatment. Advances in early detection and medical intervention contribute significantly to positive outcomes. Regular check-ups and awareness play an important role in early detection and treatment of thyroid cancer.
Myth 2: Only women get thyroid cancer
Fact: While it’s true that thyroid cancer is more common in women, men can also develop the condition. The reasons for the higher incidence in women are not entirely clear, but hormonal factors may contribute. Men, however, should not dismiss the possibility of thyroid cancer and everyone, regardless of gender, should be vigilant about their thyroid health.
Myth 3: Thyroid cancer always presents with noticeable symptoms
Fact: Thyroid cancer can be asymptomatic in its early stages. Unlike other cancers that may manifest through noticeable symptoms, thyroid cancer can develop without any apparent symptoms. This makes regular screenings and thyroid check-ups essential, especially for those with a family history of thyroid problems or other risk factors.
Myth 4: Thyroid cancer is not preventable
Truth: While there may not be foolproof ways to prevent thyroid cancer, certain lifestyle choices can reduce the risk. A healthy diet rich in fruits and vegetables, regular exercise and avoiding excessive radiation exposure to the neck area are all factors that can contribute to reducing the risk of thyroid cancer. However, it is important to remember that some risk factors, such as genetics, cannot be controlled.
Myth 5: Removal of the thyroid gland means lifelong health problems
Fact: Surgery to remove the thyroid, known as a thyroidectomy, is a common treatment for thyroid cancer, but it doesn’t necessarily lead to lifelong health problems. With proper medication and monitoring, people who have had a thyroidectomy can lead healthy lives. Thyroid hormone replacement therapy helps maintain the body’s essential functions, ensuring that patients can continue their daily activities without significant interruption.
Myth 6: Thyroid cancer is the same for everyone
Fact: There are different types of thyroid cancer, each with its own characteristics and treatment options. Papillary and follicular thyroid cancers are the most common and generally have favorable outcomes. Medullary and anaplastic thyroid cancers are rare and can be more aggressive. Planning treatment based on the specific type and stage of thyroid cancer is crucial for optimal outcomes.
Dr. Sonal shares, “Treatment methods for thyroid cancer include surgery, the primary procedure to remove the thyroid gland or tumor; radioactive iodine therapy to target the remaining thyroid tissue; external beam radiation in more aggressive cases; and thyroid hormone replacement to maintain hormonal balance. . . “